Driving the sustainability agenda: Change, commit, collaborate

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An opinion article from Joseph Huang, chairman of E.SUN Bank

Global banks often capture the limelight in the industry’s efforts to be more sustainable, but in many countries, domestic banks are even more engaged in some important and pioneering work in the fight against climate change and the drive for greater sustainability.

Indeed, some domestic leaders, such as E.SUN Bank, have had sustainability at the core of their business and strategy for a long time, and have stronger credentials than some of their global peers; we rank seventh worldwide on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.

Sustainability is, therefore, not just an area we have recently embraced. It has been an important strategic focus of the bank for many years, a commitment that we continue to demonstrate throughout our operations and in our business activity.

Change – stepping up

In the past decade, the bank has stepped-up to support the energy transition and fight climate change by providing the type financing that is needed, and not just in the domestic market but in foreign markets, too.

Since joining the Equator Principles in 2015, for instance, E.SUN has participated in renewable energy financing as far afield as Australia and the US. In fact, to date the bank has provided financing for 810 solar power stations and 189 offshore wind turbines. Renewable energy allocation capacity reached 4,749 MW as of September 2021.

Furthermore, since 2017 – when the E.SUN issued its first green bond – we have been a regular and leading issuer of green and sustainable bonds, both in new Taiwan dollars and US dollars. This funding has been used to finance projects in industries and areas including renewable energy, greenhouse gas reduction, and water resources conservation.

Sustainability is not just an area we have recently embraced. It has been an important strategic focus of the bank for many years, a commitment that we continue to demonstrate throughout our operations and in our business activity.
Joseph Huang, Chairman of E.SUN Bank
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In the same year as our first green bond, we also started to explore offshore wind project financing. E.SUN successfully assisted a global energy developer in obtaining allocation capacity of 640 MW with the Yunlin project.

This was a proud moment for the bank as the Yunlin project was Asia's largest offshore wind project financing deal in 2019.

In addition to capital markets funding and project financing, E.SUN has also brought ESG-linked loan financing to market, which has essentially supported our clients in setting and achieving certain ESG-related targets, including carbon emission reduction, inclusion in sustainability indices, green supply chain engagement, and water conservation.

Committing to transformation

In July 2019 the bank announced that it would no longer finance coal-fired power plants. This underlined our commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

However, this year we have made a far stronger commitment – to science-based, net-zero aligned emissions reductions targets as part of “Business Ambition for 1.5°C” pledge, making the bank the first financial institution in Asia to set such a target.

To achieve this, the bank has set mid- and long-term goals, one of which is that all of our domestic buildings will be converted into green buildings by 2027. We have also committed to having all of the domestic business locations powered by 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Much work has already been done in this area. The bank has, for example, led on creating an inventory of carbon emissions data for all domestic and overseas locations, as well as invested in solar energy equipment for renovated buildings, and reconfigured some into green buildings, such as the "Chiayi Branch," which is a model branch for sustainable operations.

Collaborate – common goals

In addition to transforming our own operations and activities, we are also collaborating with some of the country’s leading companies to promote sustainability.

Earlier this year, for instance, we launched the E.SUN ESG and sustainability initiative, which brought together 32 Taiwanese companies that pledged to incorporate ESG into their business and implement United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Some of the companies involved include China Steel Corporation and AUO Optronics.

The initiative has three key elements: action being taken by E.SUN and other companies to combat climate change; a response to a collective goal to reduce carbon emissions; and the adoption of better governance path for climate change.

On the last point, we are proud that the initiative has captured the attention of the Taiwanese government as well as non-governmental organisations. We hope this will bring positive changes to our society and the environment so we can build a sustainable future.

Driving the agenda

In addition to this initiative, E.SUN also offers on-site visits to SMEs to improve their management systems and their brand image. A core concept for our business is organisational learning, which involves cultivating internal green finance professionals, while reforming the organisational structure to improve the risk control process.

Since E.SUN was founded in 1992, ESG has been part of its long-term strategy. We believe we have set the standard for our peers across Asia. The overall goal of these measures and concepts is to support green energy development in Taiwan and to have a positive impact on global efforts to achieve net-zero emissions.

While we may not capture as much of the limelight as our larger global peers, and there is more we can do to improve ESG and sustainability practices, we are taking steps in the right direction.

As chairman of E.SUN I take a lot of pride in the work we have done around ESG and sustainability and we will continue to drive the sustainability agenda.

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