UBS, Citi and Morgan Stanley among 40 banks in net-zero climate action alliance

The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero is led by former Bank of England governor Mark Carney

FILE PHOTO: The Citigroup Inc (Citi) logo is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. Picture taken October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo
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More than 40 global banks including Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and UBS have signed a pledge to cut pollution from their portfolios and reach net zero emissions by 2050.

The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, led by former Bank of England governor Mark Carney, brings together several new and existing climate finance pacts involving a total of 160 companies responsible for $70 trillion in assets. The announcement on Wednesday comes ahead of US President Joe Biden’s global summit on the climate.

Mr Carney, who is now an adviser to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has repeatedly stressed the role of private funding for the transition to clean energy and to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Banks and asset managers have made a flurry of promises to stop funding polluters, some under pressure from investors.

However, there has been little consensus on how and when the world’s richest institutions should act to support the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which the U.S rejoined under Mr Biden’s administration.

Discussions with the banks over the terms of the Glasgow alliance were extensive and included disagreements about how to account for oil and gas company emissions, according to sources.

“If we are to green the world’s economy, we need a truly global effort –banks, companies, governments, regulators and civil society working together at pace,” said Ana Botin, executive chairman of Banco Santander and president of the European Banking Federation, according to a statement.

All signatories, including Lloyds, Credit Suisse and HSBC, have agreed to align emissions from their lending and investment portfolios with pathways to net-zero by 2050 or sooner.

They have also agreed to set 2030 targets within 18 months, with intermediate targets to be set every five years from 2030 onwards. All targets will be regularly reviewed to ensure consistency with the latest science.

They will focus on the most polluting sectors within their portfolios, and set a further round of targets for carbon-intensive sectors including agriculture, aluminium, cement, coal, real estate, iron and steel, oil and gas, power generation and transport within 36 months.

The lenders have agreed to annually publish absolute emissions and intensity in line with best practice and take “a robust approach” to the use of offsets in cutting emissions.

Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority stakeholder of Bloomberg LP, is supporting the alliance in his capacity as an ambassador for Race to Zero and Race to Resilience.