“A massive boost for climate action and sustainability,” is the UN’s description of the Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB). The UN’s sentiments are echoed by the CEO of Germany’s Commerzbank, Martin Zielke. He says the principles demand: “The transformation of the real economy towards sustainability.” Likewise, boss of Amsterdam-headquartered ING bank Ralph Hammers says they reflect the: “Moral obligation [of banks] as global corporate citizens to finance positive change.”
Environmental activists are more sceptical. “We have seen this before — it is too little, too late,” says Johan Frijns, executive director of NGO Banktrack. “This would have looked very good in 1992, but the principles seem to have been drafted as if we have all the time in the world to deal with sustainability problems.”
Certainly, the PRB have been a long time coming. They are modelled on the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), launched in 2006 by the UN and a group of institutional investors. The PRI, which require signatory investors to incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment decision making, have been hugely successful. They now have more than 2300 signatories who manage almost $90 billion in assets — more than half of professionally managed financial assets globally.
The new European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has promised a Green Deal for Europe. For it to be truly green, it will have to be fossil fuel free and this means cleaning up the European Investment Bank. The development bank this summer proposed phasing out support for oil and gas projects. Colin Roche from Friends of the Earth Europe urges the EIB board to back the plan when it meets in September
Germany’s first climate law does not include fossil gas, but behind the scenes discussions about the role of gas in the country’s energy mix, particularly hydrogen gas, is intensifying
A recent World Bank study reveals global carbon revenues are rising sharply, but only around 42% are used for environmental projects. It shows European and American citizens prefer their governments to spend carbon revenues on low-carbon initiatives, so why is political will lagging behind asks Susanne Dyrbøl from Rockwool Group
Energy Cities, a European association of local authorities, estimates a city will need between €1 billion and €3 billion to reach net zero emissions by 2050
Even if many cities are finding it a challenge to meet decarbonisation targets, they have made progress over the last decade and are becoming increasingly ambitious