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Forest protection, the first climate-neutral account, green bonds: How we are contributing to climate protection

Published May 12th, 2020

Falling head-first from one crisis into the next cannot be an option. But to ensure it doesn’t come to that, each and every one of us can do something to combat climate change. Find out how that works at Tomorrow and how your money can be put to work for a better future here…

We are currently teetering on the brink of a huge economic crisis, the repercussions of which are already having a knock-on effect for us all – and will continue making themselves felt for a long time to come. So it’s no wonder that many people are longing to return to how the economy was before the coronavirus reared its ugly head.

And yet if there is one thing we need to realise, it’s that the “old normal” of our everyday lives and the economy was, to a large extent, anything but healthy. In fact, it was very much paving the way for the next crisis: climate change. So if we want to equip ourselves for the future, we need to muster up the courage to create a new normality that serves us as a society and doesn’t destroy the planet in the process.

But how do we actually start the ball rolling for change? Looking in the mirror at ourselves is the best way to begin. After all, simply waiting for the next big political fix, which we will certainly need if we are to avert the climate crisis, just isn’t going to cut it anymore. We all need to do our bit. And the good thing is we can all do our bit. Whether big or small.

How can money be part of the solution?

Incidentally, that is also how the idea for Tomorrow came about. Because everything we do and have achieved today is based on the company founders’ original mission to change the financial industry so that money becomes part of the solution and no longer the problem. And this is why we have developed different tools, which we are using together with our Tomorrow community to help protect our planet in the long term. Sounds good? That’s because it is!

Here we want to break down once again what happens with the money you deposit into your account at Tomorrow, the impact that your card payments have, why we have opted for forest protection rather than reforestation, how you can offset your carbon footprint with Zero and the current status of the impact in figures. Let’s get started!

1. Our values and your deposits

Forming the basis of each of our climate protection tools is the fact that we refuse to cast our values overboard for the sake of profit. While conventional banks often use their customers’ money from current accounts, savings accounts or equity funds for investments or loans, which then end up as capital for coal-fired power stations, the arms industry or even large-scale factory farming, you can rest assured that we don’t give a single cent to such industries.

The money you deposit in your accounts with us is only ever put to good use: such as in the Green Bond of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Its current total stands at 9,800,000 euros, which will mainly be used to finance the construction of wind farms and also photovoltaic energy plants. Or micro-loans for small-scale farmers around the world, who need new seeds or wish to build up another business that gives them long-term prospects to secure their livelihoods. This means that your money is used to create something sustainable rather than causing destruction. And all you have to do is open an account with us.

We also offset all emissions accrued internally by us as a company – from travelling, waste disposal, water consumption or web hosting. We are also a member of Leaders for Climate Actions, Entrepreneurs for Future and other alliances committed to climate protection.

2. Protect the rainforest every time you pay by card

It’s not only your money in your account that makes an impact, but also your Tomorrow card. Every time you use it to make a payment, you are making a valuable contribution to protecting the climate: for transactions with Visa, the retailers you buy from pay a so-called “interchange fee” to the cardholder’s bank. This is a globally established system – and, for many banks, a source of income. Most customers aren’t even aware of it. But we want to make a difference – so instead of pocketing the money for ourselves, we invest the charges in global climate protection projects.

At the moment, the funds from the interchange fee are being used for a forest protection project in Portel, Brazil, which is saving 178,000 hectares of Amazon rainforest from illegal deforestation, the devastating effects of which are currently more topical than ever before: at the beginning of April, news agency Reuters reported that from January to March of this year, 796 square kilometres of forest had been destroyed – an area roughly the size of New York City. An increase of more than 51% compared to the previous year.

And, as the new figures show, the situation there continues to worsen: destruction of the rainforest surged to an 11-year high last year and will continue to climb in 2020. This also has a lot to do with the coronavirus crisis and the fact that the Brazilian government has weakened the enforcement of environmental laws. Economic troubles could also lead to more illegal deforestation. We are in regular contact with the on-site team responsible for the project in Brazil. Read more about it here.

3. Why forest protection and not reforestation?

But why are we putting such a focus on the protection of forests, rather than investing in reforestation? Just to set the record straight: both are important, both absorb CO₂, protect the soil from erosion and are essential for species conservation. But unlike replanting of trees, protecting existing forests has the clear advantage that these can absorb more CO₂ immediately. But especially the protection of forests regarding the project we support means to protect the habitat of humans and animals in the threatend area.

And the general rule is: the fewer trees we chop down, the fewer we have to reforest. Which is also important because every forest loss releases more carbon emissions – forest fires and dieback are of course also important factors here. Seen from a global perspective, this is a huge problem, which can only be countered with reforestation. But that takes time. In addition, the deforestation and slash-and-burn clearing method used in the Amazon itself also causes high CO₂ emissions, which we simply cannot afford to let happen.

By the way: in the app, you can always keep an eye on how much of a contribution you are personally making with your Tomorrow card to protecting the rainforest!

4. Offset your own carbon footprint with Zero

But it’s also as clear as day that our carbon emissions are far too high for us to be able to avert the climate crisis. Here at Tomorrow we have also thought long and hard about how we can make even more of a contribution. That’s why we launched Zero, the world’s first account that offsets your carbon footprint. Each account compensates for as much CO₂ as an average German emits: 11.3 tonnes per year.

To achieve that, we invest in selected climate protection projects in developing countries. Specific examples include biogas plants in Vietnam, a project for clean drinking water in Uganda and the support of small-scale farmers in Peru, who use land without endangering the rainforest – by growing Brazil nut trees, for example.

But wait a moment… is offsetting CO₂ really the best possible solution for our climate? No, of course it isn’t. In the long term we need to produce fewer environmentally damaging substances instead of “just” offsetting them. And to achieve this, we all need to step up to the mark: by flying and driving less, eating less meat, switching to renewable energies and lots more. After all, reducing CO₂ emissions is the most important tool we have at our disposal to create a better tomorrow. Nevertheless, we are still more than aware of the many opportunities for positive change that compensating for our carbon emissions has already afforded us. And as is so often the case in life: you can do one thing without giving up the other!

5. Tomorrow’s climate protection in current figures

How much have we achieved with our Tomorrow community so far? The actual figures (as of 13 May 2020) are as follows:

Impact from customer deposits:

  • 9,800,000 euros invested in a green bond, which is equivalent to a saving of 6,388,899 kg of CO₂ per year

  • 50,000 euros for micro-loans

Impact from card payments:

  • 6,140,720 protected trees

  • 36,403,736 m² of protected rainforest, which is equivalent to 9,308,910 kg of trapped CO₂ that is stored as carbon in the trunk, branches, leaves and roots

Impact from Zero:

  • 871,233 kg less CO₂ by supporting small-scale farmers

  • 435,614 kg less CO₂ by supporting the project for clean drinking water

  • 435,621 kg less CO₂ by investing in biogas plants

Which makes a grand total of 1,742,468 kg less CO₂ with Zero.

Not too bad at all, right?

So, if you’re asking yourselves what you can do now to contribute to a better tomorrow, then how about setting up an account with us?