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Miles to go: Europe’s banks assessed on climate ahead of COP26

A new analysis of European banks by ShareAction finds that while some firms distinguish themselves in some climate and biodiversity practices, the overall picture is of a sector that still has much work to do.

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Photo: iStock

As bank executives and government policymakers prepare for the UN's COP26 climate change summit in November, activist groups are keeping up the pressure. On Monday, ShareAction produced its latest assessment of how the finance sector is performing – or, more often, failing to perform.

It does not make for comfortable reading. While 20 of Europe’s 25 biggest banks have committed to net-zero emissions by 2050, ShareAction says that, “none have matched these long-term ambitions with comprehensive plans to avert climate change and biodiversity loss.” And while the strongest criticism is reserved for those banks that have fallen behind their peers, ShareAction senior banking analyst Xavier Lerin says that “even the leading practices in the sector continue to fail basic litmus tests on climate and biodiversity.”

ShareAction says it doesn’t rank banks as it prefers to highlight the best practices – such as they are – to show the way for those that are even worse. So, who does it think is doing anything good?

On alignment with net-zero targets for 2050, ShareAction finds that five of the 25 banks have set interim targets, but that only Lloyds Banking Group, NatWest and Nordea have committed to halve their financed emissions by 2030.


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