Unbanked Potential: New report finds largest global banks failing to play long game on climate change

Boston –

A new report examining 61 of the world’s largest banks on their management of climate-related risks concludes that despite welcomed statements and announcements by some banks ahead of COP21, few are taking a strategic approach to these potentially game changing developments. There remains a huge divide between banks’ current practices and the financial sector’s potential to support the transition to a low-carbon future.

The results showed:

  • Inadequate disclosure across the industry – Many of the banks surveyed do not adequately assess the carbon risk of their lending and underwriting, or conduct climate-related stress tests. No bank is currently measuring its carbon footprint
  • Some of the biggest banks are not at the table – Of the world’s ten largest banks only two are ranked in the Top 10 for climate management (Bank of China, Citigroup).
  • A $4.8 trillion opportunity not yet grasped – Significant funding is required for the transition to a low-carbon economy*, yet most banks assessed do not have quantitative targets for increased investment/financing of energy efficiency or renewable energy projects.

The research was conducted by Boston Common Asset Management and backed by a $500bn coalition of 80 global, institutional investors. The banks included the world’s largest underwriters of carbon-intensive industries such as oil & gas, pipelines and coal. Lead investor partners included Australian Ethical Investment (Australia), Bâtirente (Canada), Church of Sweden (Sweden), Cometa Pension Funds (Italy) and Ethos Foundation (Switzerland).

Lauren Compere, Managing Director at Boston Common, said,

“With the Paris climate summit fast approaching, the analysis shows a worrying lack of a strategic, long-term approach to climate risk across many of our leading banks. We believe banks are not adequately measuring, managing and disclosing these risks. COP21 highlights the significant need for investments to transition the world to a low carbon economy. Banks have a critical role to play here. As the Governor of the Bank of England said earlier this month there is still time to act, but the window of opportunity is finite and shrinking.”

Read the full press release here.

About Boston Common Asset Management

Boston Common Asset Management is an experienced investment manager dedicated to the pursuit of financial return and social change. We invest over $2 billion on behalf of institutional and individual investors – exclusively offering sustainable and responsible investment options. Each of our strategies intentionally integrates in-depth research into company specific environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices. We combine this research with rigorous financial analysis to build diversified portfolios of high-quality, socially responsible companies. As shareowners, we urge our portfolio companies to improve transparency, accountability and attention to ESG issues. Boston Common is recognized as a women- and minority-owned business by the Massachusetts Supplier Diversity Office. We are proud to have built a strong investment record and believe we have meaningfully improved corporate practices globally through our engagement.

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