Making sense of banks’ climate targets | The Economist

Making sense of banks' climate targets

A lack of data and differing methodologies will make measuring performance fiendishly tricky

FINANCIAL FIRMS produce very few greenhouse-gas emissions directly, aside from those associated with keeping the lights on and the computers whirring. But the picture changes dramatically when you add “financed emissions”, those associated with a firm's lending and investing activities. Figures from the few banks and asset managers that disclose them suggest that financed emissions are 100 to 1,000 times bigger than operational ones.

Financed emissions are now coming under more scrutiny from climate-conscious clients and campaigners, and lenders are hoping to manage the associated reputational and regulatory risks. Green regulation, for instance, could damage the viability of an investment. On November 30th Barclays, a British bank, published plans for its net-zero target. Its goal will be to cut emissions from deals it arranges in the capital markets as well as on its loans.

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