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Net-zero finance: Putting financial institutions to work for our planet and our communities

By staff
  | Apr 06, 2023


Earth Month reminds us that the climate crisis is already affecting all of us. The adverse effects of a changing environment – sea level rise, increasing temperatures, droughts, extreme weather events, and their impacts on our health and safety – have made the need for meaningful action on all fronts clearer than ever.

That’s why this Earth Month, we want to re-emphasize our commitment to investing in the future of our environment. At Self-Help, we make sustainability a priority throughout the year because the communities we serve are often impacted by environmental crises first and hardest. We invite you to join us in this fight to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that drive climate change. 

The role financial institutions play in creating and reducing GHG emissions
When we think about all the factors that contribute to the greenhouse effect, financial institutions might not be first in our minds. The reality, however, is that finance is the lifeblood of the industries and projects that contribute to GHG emissions on a large scale. Self-Help is committed to turning the tide away from investments in polluting and GHG-emitting industries, and we’re encouraging other financial institutions to follow us. 

We don’t invest the money you deposit in fossil fuel projects, and we build sustainable practices into our daily operations. Rather than funding the construction of pipelines or the growth of polluting industries, your deposits directly support small businesses and nonprofits dedicated to sustainable development, especially in low-wealth communities. 

We also invest in sustainability to support healthy food systems and beautiful, safe, and sustainable communities for our members and partners. We know the critical importance of clean air and water as well as healthy food from farm to fork, and we want to make these accessible to all. 

How we’re helping to make financial institutions part of the solution
In 2018, Self-Help became one of the first North American financial institutions to join the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF),  a global effort to help financial institutions become more accountable for fighting climate change. Joining this effort means that we measure and disclose the GHG emissions that result from the loans and investments that we make. 

Self-Help’s early adoption also helped ensure that adopting these new standards would be feasible for smaller community development financial institutions and credit unions. We helped develop a guide for how CDFIs can implement PCAF’s accounting methods, as well as a report on how we contribute to emissions in our operations and what we’re doing to reduce our impact through investments and improvements. 

How you can put your money to work in this effort
If you’re a Self-Help member and are looking to invest in the fight against climate change, consider putting your money into a Green Term Certificate.  Our Green Term Certificates offer an opportunity to lock in a competitive return on your savings and help reduce GHG emissions through investments in sustainable businesses, like solar farms, recycling businesses, ecotourism, sustainable foods, land trusts and bike shops. 

If you’re not already a member, consider joining us! We offer fair and affordable financial services, and we invest in communities to help them thrive and grow. Our work, through the critical support of our member-owners, supports environmental sustainability and economic justice in all the communities we serve.

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