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Global banks pledge to tackle CO2 emissions

A group of major international banks have signed up to a framework pledging to tackle both the operational greenhouse gas emissions of financial services institutions and emissions throughout the wide range of financial products and services globally.

Credit Agricole, HSBC, Munich Re, Standard Chartered and Swiss Re have joined with The Climate Group to launch the green best practice code – called The Climate Prinicples.

Francis Sullivan, from HSBC and chair of The Climate Principles said:

“Signatories will incorporate carbon and climate risk into their research activities and investment decisions, engage with clients to understand climate risks and opportunities and develop products and services that support them in managing those risks and exploiting those opportunities.”

The green guidance for banks is tailored to suit each part of the finance sector. Retail banks will address the level of customer enthusiasm for tackling climate change and the barriers currently preventing them from taking action; insurance and reinsurance institutions will advise clients on climate risks and mitigation technologies; and corporate and investment banks will work on financing solutions to facilitate investment in low carbon technologies and greenhouse gas reduction projects as well as measuring the climate impacts of their investments.

Investment banks will also build expertise to support development of trading in emissions, weather derivatives, renewable energy credits and other climate related commodities. Project financiers will also request that clients disclose project CO2 emissions and seek reduction and offset solutions.

It all sounds good but the as the global economy continues to crash down all around us and banks put all their focus on simply surviving – one of the signatories, HSBC just today revealed it is cutting 500 jobs in the UK, for example – it will be interesting to see how high up the list of priorities these climate principles will be because, despite the good intentions, there is a real lack of detail about the level of investment banks are prepared to put behind this and any actual targets. And, of course, it’s voluntary. It’s a start, but no more.

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