Banking

Carney aims for global banking climate pledge at Biden summit

Dozens of European and U.S. banks are considering throwing their weight behind the White House’s Earth Day summit under plans being drawn up by former Bank of England governor Mark Carney.

Carney is expected to unveil the Glasgow Finance Alliance for Net Zero during the climate change summit on April 22 and 23, in his role as adviser to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The Alliance, which may include Citigroup, Barclays and HSBC Holdings Plc, is expected to host about 30 banks pledging to reach net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Former Bank of England governor Mark Carney advises U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on climate issues.

Bloomberg

Discussions with the banks over the terms of the alliance are still ongoing. While the lenders will commit to eliminate emissions from their own portfolios, talks have centered around whether the agreement will extend to their financing activities, such as underwriting. There have also been disagreements about how to account for oil and gas company emissions, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified before the plans are finalized. Citi, Barclays and HSBC declined to comment.

Eliminating emissions has become a major talking point for bank CEOs this year as the finance industry has attracted greater scrutiny for funding the world’s biggest polluters. With the flurry of lenders that have previously said little on the climate impact of their lending books now rushing to announce net zero targets, critics have questioned the substance of these commitments.

The launch of the alliance, dubbed GFAN, will coincide with President Joe Biden’s Earth Day summit, which will gather world leaders including Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, in a bid to encourage worldwide action to keep average global temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Biden is expected to announce a new U.S. target ahead of the summit to cut emissions at least 50% by 2030 compared with 2005 levels.

A spokeswoman for the COP26 Presidency unit in the U.K. Government declined to comment.

Most of the banks involved in GFAN are from Europe and North America, and many have already individually announced net-zero goals, so the details still under discussion. Mobilizing financial markets to support the transition from fossil fuels was among the key goals of the 2015 Paris climate accord. Yet environmental advocates have argued that many of the finance industry’s net-zero targets lack substance because they set a goal for 30 years without any interim targets, and because they don’t mention any plans to stop financing fossil fuels.

Banks have offered more than $3.8 trillion of fossil-fuel financing since the signing of the Paris Agreement, according to Rainforest Action Network, which used data from Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, for its calculations.



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