Environmental commitments of Europe's largest banks - statistics & facts

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all United Nations member states in September 2015, with the shared mission to achieve global peace and prosperity. 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were set as the heart of the agenda and a call to action for all countries, both developed and developing, to commit to a shared plan of action for the ongoing safety of the planet and its inhabitants in the future. The 17 goals set out were: no poverty; zero hunger; good health and well-being; quality education; gender equality; clean water and sanitation; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; industry, innovation and infrastructure; reduced inequality; sustainable cities and communities; responsible consumption and production; climate action; life below water; life on land; peace, justice and strong institutions; partnerships for the goals.

The OECD estimated that 6.9 trillion U.S. dollars of annual investment were needed between 2016 and 2030 to meet the SDGs. The United Nations, meanwhile, estimates that there is currently an annual funding gap of 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars. ​As pressure for both the public and private sector to take real action towards sustainable development mounts, banks are discovering that taking a responsible and sustainable approach to lending and operations can have huge financial benefits. Increasingly, investors are implementing environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk into their decision-making processes. Therefore, banks committed to supporting sustainability have a growing advantage against their competitors.

A growing number of banks are looking at their commercial loan portfolios and making decisions to reduce and, in some cases, stop funding for high-risk sectors such as coal, gas and oil. Banks are also increasing the amount they lend to projects which help transition clients into a more sustainable way of operating. Many banks also receive the majority, if not all of their operational electricity through renewable energy procurement, while simultaneously reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Banks are not only making and increasingly delivering on goals set, but are openly reporting on their emissions, water consumption, waste and energy portfolios.

It is not just financially beneficial goals that banks are committing to. As a part of the ESG targets, banks are looking to improve customer satisfaction, employee advocacy, employee gender diversity, commit more to communities and indigenous groups, as well as tackle and reduce financial crime and tax evasion. ​

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