Banks making progress with their Climate Statement: €3.5 billion in new green bonds, higher price needed for CO2

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Renewable energy

A year ago, in the build-up to the Climate Change Conference in Paris, the Dutch banking sector released a document called the Climate Statement. Over the past twelve months banks have made taken significant strides in reporting on and reducing their climate impact.

A year ago, in the build-up to the Climate Change Conference in Paris, the Dutch banking sector released a document called the Climate Statement. Over the past twelve months banks have made taken significant strides in reporting on and reducing their climate impact. One of the signatories of the statement, Chairman of the Dutch Banking Association NVB Chris Buijink, explains, ‘Society expects the business sector, including the financial sector, to contribute in the efforts toward solving the climate change problem. We responded last year by publishing the Climate Statement Dutch Banks. Today, on the day of the Dutch National Climate Change Conference, we hope to show that we’re putting our money where our mouth is. Numerous new initiatives have been introduced over the past twelve months to give concrete shape to our contribution.’

For example, more and more banks are offering transparency about what sectors and industries they finance, using a protocol drawn up by the Dutch Banking Association NVB. A group of banks and other financial institutions have set up the Platform Carbon Accounting and Finance (PCAF) to investigate how best to provide information about finance- and investment-related CO2 emissions, and various banks are already trying to calculate the climate impact of their core activities.

Banks are working hard and fast to develop new ways to reduce their direct and indirect environmental impact. Numerous new initiatives have been launched over the past twelve months to encourage clients to save energy: from discounted interest rates for the most sustainable SMEs and cheap loans for municipalities and for sport clubs that switch to LED light bulbs, to larger loans for energy-conservation measures and useful apps showing real estate investors which of the measures are worthwhile and qualify for loans. 

Two new funds have been set up to boost sustainable energy generation: a new public-private investment fund for renewable energy projects in developing countries and a subordinated loan fund for Dutch projects. A brochure has been published with tips and tricks for developing small-scale solar and wind energy projects in the Netherlands. On top of all these initiatives, since the Climate Statement was published Dutch banks have issued new ‘green bonds’ to the sum of more than €3.5 billion, paving the way for a wide range of projects during the coming years: water management, energy efficiency, sustainable real estate and sustainable energy and its infrastructure.

Call for effective CO2 pricing

The Climate Statement Dutch Banks was published just before the International Climate Change Conference in Paris, where an ambitious Climate Change Agreement was signed. Although enough countries have since ratified that agreement, Buijink believes that a great deal of work remains to be done. ‘The Paris Agreement was a great result. However, as the Dutch central bank reported earlier this year in “Time for Transition”, it will only represent a real breakthrough if the price of CO2 emissions is raised. In the meantime banks will continue to pursue this course, and they will take their clients with them.’

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