UK Banks Finance 805m Tonnes Of CO2 A Year

WWF and Greenpeace study shows huge emissions financing by UK banks

May 25, 2021
UK Banks Finance 805m Tonnes Of CO2 A Year
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The amount of carbon dioxide production that is financed by the UK’s banks and asset managers has been ranked at 805m tonnes each year, almost double that of the UK itself.

The figures have been released in a joint study put together by environmental campaigners the WWF and Greenpeace. The study shows that, in 2019, the carbon emissions of projects and companies that have been funded by UK finance institutions, including loans and investments, was 1.8 times the total emissions of the UK.

Top 10 Global Ranking

If the City was a country, it would be ninth in the world rankings for CO2 emissions, ahead of Germany.

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China tops the list of CO2 emissions at 11.71 gigatonnes (11,710,000,000 tonnes), more than double the US in second place at 5.71Gt.

At the bottom of the top 10 rankings, Iran is 8th at 828Mt, just ahead of where the UK finance industry would be in ninth.

As a result of the study, Greenpeace and the WWF have made fresh calls for the government to implement regulations that bring the financial sector into the same targets for countries, aiming to limit temperature increases globally to 1.5 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels.

Finance is the UK’s dirty little secret…Banks and investors are responsible for more emissions than most nations, and the UK government is giving them a free pass. How can we say we’re ‘leading the world on climate action’ while allowing financial institutions to plough billions into fossil fuel production every year? The claim is almost laughable.

Greenpeace UK’s executive director, John Sauven

In response, a spokesperson for UK Finance, a bank lobby group, said that lenders were taking their responsibility to environmental issues “very seriously” and were aiming to take a “leading role in the shift to net zero finance.” As part of the UN’s new Net Zero Banking Alliance, the top six lenders in the UK have committed to achieving net zero emissions from their investment portfolios by 2050 at the latest.

Critical Time For Environmental Issues

In the last few days, the G7 group of nations – the world’s richest of the advanced countries – made new commitments to end direct government support for any business or industry overseas working with coal. Prior to that, the International Energy Agency (IEA) announced that, in order for the 2050 targets of zero net emissions to be hit, there could be no new investments in oil, gas or coal from now.

Banks have recently been stepping up their environmental commitments, including making changes to debit and credit card production to use recycled plastics where possible.

The study referenced by Greenpeace and the WWF was conduction by climate solutions company South Pole. It measured the investment activities and lending of the UK’s financial sector and was based on a sample of 15 banks and 10 asset managers.

Ian Lewis
Ian Lewis
Ian is an experienced writer with 15 years’ experience working in journalism and marketing. He’s worked in-house in financial institutions as well as writing freelance pieces for a variety of banking and financial trading websites.

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