Banks Far From Hitting Paris Climate Targets, Groups Warn

By ED DAVEY, Related Press

The world’s most influential banks must considerably speed up local weather efforts if international temperature rise is to be saved throughout the livability targets of the Paris Settlement, an evaluation launched Thursday by an institutional traders’ group warned.

The efforts of 27 large banks in North America, Europe and Asia to align their insurance policies with international warming of not more than 1.5 levels Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) are falling far brief in each space measured within the pilot research, obtained solely by The Related Press. The report finds no financial institution has dedicated to finish financing for brand new oil and gasoline exploration, and just one has promised to chop all coal financing according to Worldwide Vitality Company tips.

The financial institution analysis was ready by the Institutional Buyers Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), whose greater than 350 members are primarily asset managers and homeowners, and embody Barclay’s Financial institution UK Retirement Fund, BlackRock and Goldman Sachs Asset Administration Worldwide. Group members have €51 trillion ($52 trillion) in belongings underneath administration and recommendation, in accordance the the IIGCC web site. That quantities to roughly a tenth of whole belongings held by monetary establishments worldwide. The Transition Pathway Initiative, a analysis group that tracks company emissions, was co-author on the report.

The analysis is important as a result of it comes from throughout the monetary neighborhood, echoing the concept fossil gas investments should wind down, which environmentalists, local weather scientists and vitality consultants have argued for years.

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Witold Henisz, vice dean of the environmental, social and governance initiative on the Wharton Enterprise Faculty, mentioned the research “establishes convincingly that banks are not yet demonstrating substantive progress towards net zero, and often even their own commitments.” A rising physique of analysis suggests low public rankings disgrace firms into responding, he mentioned – and traders could punish them.

Any quibbles over methodology “will not alter the above high-level conclusion,” he added.

The research assessed banks for six areas the place they need to be exhibiting progress if their lending and different companies are aligned with a pointy ramp down of emissions: the energy of web zero pledges; short- and medium-term emissions targets; decarbonization methods, specifically, plans for exiting polluting industries; lobbying on local weather regulation; how local weather danger is mirrored in accounts and audits, and governance, that means how local weather dangers are integrated into management constructions.

Evaluators set benchmarks for every space. Banks have been graded on what number of they hit. A 100% ranking would imply a financial institution was fully aligned with the Paris targets in that class.

On their commitments to lowering emissions of their portfolios to zero, the banks, in mixture, got here in at 20%. On short- and medium-term local weather targets, which display a pathway to web zero targets, they met simply 10% of indicators. And the report discovered 1% of banks’ lobbying practices are in line with the 1.5° C purpose.

“The level of urgency must ratchet up,” said Natasha Landell-Mills, head of stewardship at investment manager Sarasin and Partners, and co-chair of the IIGCC working group. “Banks still have a long way to go.”

As gatekeepers of the world’s money, banks play a critical role in climate change, the study said. They make new fossil fuel projects possible via financing. They decide whether to lend money for coal mines and for agribusinesses that fell tropical rainforest. There are other sources of finance, and private equity in particular has a growing role, but banks remain the most important.

Two-thirds of banks have committed to achieving net zero, the study found, but these commitments “vary widely.” Only UBS commits to net zero over its entire business, the study found.

The four Chinese banks in the report, Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China, China Construction Bank and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, have made no commitment to net zero emissions, the study found. They were the worst-rated institutions, each scoring zero in five of the six categories assessed.

The AP sought comment from these banks on several occasions, but none responded.

Each year, a body known as the Financial Stability Board, based in Basel, Switzerland, and created by G20 heads of state and governments, gauges which banks in the world are most influential, as judged by size and how integral they are to the global financial system. The world’s four most influential banks in 2021 — JPMorgan Chase, BNP Paribas, Citigroup and HSBC — each were assessed at zero in two or three areas in the evaluation. Climate governance was the only category where all were judged to be making substantial progress.

By email, Citigroup and JPMorgan both declined to comment. Both banks published targets to align the company’s practices with the Paris goal in spring 2021.

In a statement, BNP Paribas said it has made new climate commitments, including a 25% reduction in oil financing, since February 25, the last date included in the research. The bank reasserted its commitment to a carbon-neutral economy by 2050, and limiting global warming to 1.5° C. BNP Paribas has implemented “pioneering policies” to protect the climate and biodiversity, especially on forests, it said. It will “progressively reduce its exposure” to companies that won’t decarbonize fast enough.

An HSBC spokesperson mentioned by way of e mail the financial institution can also be dedicated to web zero, including: “We recognize that our global footprint means we can play a critical role.” The IIGCC report “acknowledges the progress we have already made,” she said, including a commitment to phasing out coal financing. The bank is reviewing its climate and energy policies, the spokesperson said.

Scientists say emissions must sharply ramp down in the short and medium term, so benchmarks for 2030 and 2035 are crucial. Only three banks, Barclays, ING Bank and Société Générale, have published short-term targets to reduce emissions from activities they finance, the study reveals. Nine have published medium-term targets. This is “problematic,” the research mentioned, as a result of targets assist traders gauge how severe banks are about decarbonizing.

“If too many banks plan to backload emissions reductions, global emissions will not be curbed rapidly enough,” the authors wrote.

With regard to deforestation, which might launch huge carbon dioxide when forests are burned, solely HSBC has made complete commitments to ending financing, the research says.

“For all the awareness at board level, there are not yet changes at a strategic level,” mentioned James Vaccaro, government director of the Climate Secure Lending Community, which pushes for decarbonization within the banking sector.

Vaccaro, who has 20 years’ administration expertise in sustainable banking and funding, added there are “reasons to remain hopeful amidst the dismal assessment of the state of banking today.” He singled out Barclays for praise, saying its targets were very comprehensive.

Bank lobbying, which can attempt to influence and weaken climate laws, also veered far from a 1.5° Celsius pathway, the study said. And it found banks don’t ensure that their trade associations lobby in accordance with the agreement. Only the Bank of Montreal discloses all its trade association memberships on its website and in reports.

Bill Weihl, a former sustainability chief at both Facebook and Google, who campaigns against lobbying groups, said by email the findings explain why climate policy repeatedly fails to get enacted. “We need to see the private sector step up and use its powerful influence for climate policy gains.”

Not one of the banks links executive pay to emissions, the study found.


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