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British banks lead the pack in tackling climate change

Antony Savvas

Three British banks are among the world's top five when it comes to helping to tackle the effects of climate change.

The climate change investor pressure group Ceres commissioned research into the world's leading banks' climate change governance policies, and found that European banks were ahead of the rest, with HSBC leading the pack.

ABN Amro was second, Barclays third, HBOS fourth, and Deutsche Bank fifth.

The main Chinese banks were the worst performers, and Spain's Banco Santander (owner of the Abbey) and the Bank of Nova Scotia were among the worst performers too.

The ratings were out of 100, with HSBC getting 70 and Banco Santander receiving a paltry 22. Bank of China got 4 out of 100.

The scores were based on, for instance, whether banks were setting internal greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets, boosting climate-related equity research and elevating lending and financing for clean energy projects.

Only a handful of the 40 banks surveyed have begun integrating climate risks into their core business of lending, by pricing carbon into their finance decisions or setting targets to reduce GHG emissions in their lending portfolios.

"More banks realise that climate change is a big business issue, but their responses so far are the tip of the iceberg of what is needed to tackle this colossal global challenge," said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, which published the report, Corporate Governance and Climate Change: The Banking Sector.

"As a key provider of capital and financing worldwide, banks must do more to move the economy away from fossil fuels and high-carbon investments that are exacerbating climate change," said Lubber.





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