Focus: Corporate Responsibility - Co-operative Bank fund backs Friends of the Earth

The bank's Customers Who Care scheme has taken up the banner of Combating Climate Change, writes Katheryn Mohr.

The Co-operative Bank has joined forces with Friends of the Earth to launch a year-long campaign called Combating Climate Change as part of the bank's Customers Who Care scheme.

Kate Daley, campaigns manager for Co-op Bank, said the bank chose to partner with Friends of the Earth because it trusted its expertise in the environmental field. "Friends of the Earth has a very strong track record in this area," she said.

Every year, the Customers Who Care Scheme, which was launched in 1994, chooses a campaign issue that is directly linked to the bank's ethical policy and customer concerns.

Under the scheme, the bank, which claims it is the UK's only high street bank with a published ethical policy, will donate £1.25 to the campaign fund for every £100 customers spend on their Co-op Bank Visa credit and debit cards.

Most of this money is used to fund the annual campaign, but the bank also sets aside a certain amount for organisations working on similar causes. At the end of the year, customers are invited to vote on which five charities they would like to get the donations. Each organisation is given a proportion of the money, based on the number of votes it receives.

Besides working on Combating Climate Change, the bank will also support Friends of the Earth's own climate campaign, The Big Ask, which calls on the Government to bring in a climate change law. This would force the Government to take responsibility for the UK's contribution to global warming by reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 3 per cent each year.

Mike Childs, head of campaigns for Friends of the Earth, said the new partnership was an opportunity for Friends of the Earth to carry out some useful research and to reach out to Co-op Bank customers who are ethically and environmentally minded.

"Co-op Bank itself brings a lot of expertise, which, in terms of any joint research or any other activities, can only be helpful when we are working to achieve mutual goals," Childs said.

He added that both campaigns would help to push forward the agenda of Stop Climate Chaos, the NGO-led coalition that is working to pressure government and individuals to take action on climate change (Third Sector, 26 October). "When we run campaigns such as The Big Ask or Combating Climate Change, we don't view these as being in competition with Stop Climate Chaos," said Childs.

"We are just playing the roles that we need to play to help Stop Climate Chaos become a big force in the way that Make Poverty History was a big force."

Since 1994, Customers Who Care has worked on a wide range of campaigns and donated more than £3m to about 80 charities and organisations.

CUSTOMERS WHO CARE

- The Co-operative Bank's Customers Who Care scheme was launched in 1994. The scheme takes up a new campaign issue every year

- The issue for 2006 will be Combating Climate Change

- The scheme is funded by the bank, which donates £1.25 for every £100 customers spend on their Co-op Bank Visa credit and debit cards

- Friends of the Earth will be the main beneficiary in 2006, but other environmental charities will benefit

- Customers Who Care has donated more than £3m to about 80 charities since the scheme was launched.

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