Conclusion based on research conducted by the magazine, which asked how banks were measuring and evaluating the climate impacts of their investments
The overwhelming majority of UK banks offering current and savings accounts lack convincing plans to reduce their carbon impact, according to new research from Ethical Consumer magazine.
Of 36 banks surveyed, 94 per cent failed to meet the magazine's expectations, it reported today. Only two offered responses that were deemed fully convincing, with Triodos Bank and the Ecology Building Society both receiving a top score.
The scores were based on a review conducted by the magazine, which asked how banks were measuring the climate impacts of the projects they were lending to, and how they planned to adjust their lending strategies to align with globally agreed emissions goals.
Both Triodos and the Ecology Building Society report their carbon emissions - including those of their loans and investments - using the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF) methodology, the survey found.
They also explicitly ruled out financing all future fossil fuel projects, a requirement for banks to receive a top score in the rankings. All of the mainstream high street banks with the exception of the Co-Operative fell at this hurdle, the magazine reported.
"Why would you be investing in new coal or gas plants in 2020?" said Rob Harrison, the magazine's editor. "Infrastructure like this is normally planned to be operating for up to 40 years. This seems to make no sense if we have a collective target of getting to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 - which is now only thirty years away."
The magazine noted that many banks boasted of their commitment to the net zero transition. For example. The Bank of Ireland stressed its role in "supporting a successful transition to a low carbon, climate-resilient economy", while Citibank highlighted its work to "integrate climate considerations into lending decisions".
However, Ethical Consumer said that many of the banks failed to support these statements with specific details on when they would formulate concrete measurements and targets to drive progress towards these goals.
Alongside Triodos and Ecology, the magazine praised NatWest as an exception, following its recent pledge "to quantify our climate impact and set sector-specific targets by 2022."
The survey formed part of the Ethical Consumer's Buyers Guides series, which designed to help ethically minded consumers decide which companies they wish to support.
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