Banks to screen credit portfolios for climate risks

Standard Chartered is among the signatories of the Katowice Commitment, despite funding Asian coal power plants earlier this year

Five major international banks have pledged to “steer” their lending towards companies and projects that align with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

BBVA, BNP Paribas, ING, Société General and Standard Chartered announced the signing of the Katowice Commitment at the UN’s COP 24 Climate Change Conference in Poland, yesterday.

The commitment means that the five banks will now measure how their lending portfolio stacks up against the climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement, which aims to restrict global warming to no more than 2 degrees celsius of pre-industrial levels.

Standard Chartered’s involvement in the agreement is particularly interesting, given its decision to fund new coal power plants in Asia, earlier this year. At the time ESG Clarity reported comments from Global Witness who warned that the loans would “create an increasing risk for investors”.

“Achieving the Paris Agreement requires ambitious, collective effort,” Standard Chartered’s group chief executive, Bill Winters, said in a statement, issued on Thursday.

“We are calling on governments to recognise this as they meet in Katowice this week. Standard Chartered is committed to work transparently with our clients, other banks and stakeholders to develop the tools the banking sector needs to assess our own contribution to climate goals.”

In a joint statement the five banks said that they were committed to resolving climate change by putting their balance sheets to work.

“In order to finance the energy transition, we have to measure and monitor the climate impact of our credit portfolio in line with the Paris Agreement,” said Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, CEO BNP Paribas.

“We are actively engaged and working on this subject and support this initiative which aims at creating common tools and metrics for the financial sector.”

A full copy of the announcement is available here.