A group of 30 investors representing more than $1.5 trillion in assets under management have sent letters to the CEOs and board chairs of Europe’s largest banks, calling for commitments from the banks to end financing for new oil and gas fields this year.
The campaign is being coordinated by responsible investing NGO ShareAction, which led also led climate campaigns at HSBC, one of the world’s biggest financers of fossil fuels, and engaged with the bank on its landmark policy, announced in December 2022, to no longer provide financing for new oil and gas projects or for new metallurgical coal mines.
The letters, sent to Barclays, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale, cites the new policy set by HSBC, and similar commitments by other major European banks including BBVA, ING, Lloyds Banking Group, and UniCredit, as “a new minimum level of ambition for all banks committed to net-zero by 2050.”
After HSBC, the five banks targeted in the new campaign were the largest European financiers of top oil and gas expanders, according to ShareAction. While each of the banks have committed to net zero by 2050, the letters cite the IEA warning “that there is no room for new oil and gas fields beyond 2021 for a fifty per cent chance of reaching net-zero by 2050 on a 1.5°C pathway.”
Jeanne Martin, Head of the Banking Programme at ShareAction, said:
“These investor-backed letters should be a wakeup call to banks that have made net-zero commitments… Investors are putting these banks on notice that they will face ever increasing pressure if they don’t act soon to reverse their financing of new oil and gas.”
While the letters call on the banks to commit to stop directly financing new oil and gas fields this year, while also encouraging the banks “to swiftly turn their attention to the companies behind these new oil and gas fields.”
Investors in the campaign include Candriam, La Française Asset Management, and Brunel Pension Partnership. Sophie Deleuze, Lead Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria are a set of standards for a company’s operations that socially conscious investors use to screen potential investments. More Analyst, Engagement & Vote at Candriam, said:
“HSBC’s decision to stop financing new oil and gas fields is a direct result of strong, collaborative engagement from investors. We welcome this decision and reaffirm our ambition to make this the new minimum standard. We look forward to further positive outcomes from our discussions with other European banks that still finance new oil and gas projects.”
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