The amount of CO2 production financed by Britain’s banks is nearly double the UK’s annual carbon emissions
The scale of the banking and finance sector’s role in environmental despoilation has been laid bare in a bombshell report by two NGOs.
Greenpeace and WWF have said that the amount of CO2 production financed by Britain’s banks and asset managers is nearly double the UK’s annual carbon emissions.
They say that the UK’s financial sector is a major world polluter – in fact, if the City were its own country, its output would be more than Germany, one of the world’s premier industrial powers.
Greenpeace and WWF shows the UK’s finance sector provided loans and investments for projects and companies that emitted 805 million tonnes of CO2 in 2019. That is 1.8 times the UK’s own annual net emissions for the same year, which totalled 455m tonnes.
Germany was responsible for emitting 776m tonnes of carbon in 2018, according to the latest available data.
The analysis, carried out by climate solutions firm South Pole, measured the lending and investment activities of the UK’s financial sector, based on a sample of 15 banks and 10 asset managers.
Ahead of the crucial Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow this year, the NGOs are calling on the UK government to introduce new regulations that would bring the sector in line with Paris agreement targets, which aim to limit global temperature increases to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
Greenpeace UK’s executive director John Sauven said: “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.”
Tanya Steele, The chief executive of WWF UK, called on the financial sector to have zero carbon transition plans that cover their investments all over the world: "Trying to set a path to net-zero emissions without tackling the UK financial sector is like sticking a plaster when the patient needs open heart surgery.
"Despite seeing ambitious commitments to tackle the climate emergency, our finance sector is still driving global investment towards the old, destructive ways of doing business that are destroying our one shared home."
A spokesman for UK Finance, representing the banking and finance industry, did not challenge the findings.
Instead. he said lenders are "playing a leading role in the shift to net zero finance".