Climate change: UK financial sector responsible for nearly double Britain’s total net emissions | Climate News

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Projects funded by UK financial institutions are responsible for 1.8 times the carbon emissions of Britain’s net annual total, a new report has suggested.

The study, commissioned by Greenpeace and WWF, estimated that major UK banks and asset managers were responsible for 805 million tonnes of emissions in 2019, resulting from loans and investments in areas such as energy and industry, and mortgages, making the sector the ninth largest. transmitter in the world if it was a country.

In the same year, the UK’s total net emissions amounted to 455 million tonnes of CO2.

Tanya Steele, managing director of WWF UK, said many UK citizens would be “alarmed” to learn that their money was “too often” used in ways that damage the environment, resulting in “the extraction of fossil fuels. , deforestation and other destructive activities “.

“This means that money for a better future can actually put our planet at risk,” she told Sky News in a statement.

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Environmental activists hold a protest to encourage a green economy, outside the Bank of England on August 6, 2020

Charlie Kronick, climate finance advisor for Greenpeace UK, said “poll after poll” showed the British public “wanted the country to lead the world in the fight climate change“, and yet many would be” shocked to learn that UK banks and asset managers [were] responsible for these huge carbon emissions ”.

But a spokesperson for UK Finance, which represents 300 banking and finance companies, said lenders take their responsibility to society at large “very seriously”.

A woman exercises with a dog near the City of London Financial District, London, Britain April 30, 2021
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Financial sector says it is playing a ‘leading role’ in shifting to net zero financing

They said they were “playing a leading role in moving to net zero financing”, noting a recent commitment The UK’s six largest banking groups reduce their portfolio emissions to net zero by 2050.

But activists say many such pledges have been “denounced as greenwash”, which is why they are now calling on the government to regulate the financial sector in the same way as other high-carbon industries.

They say it would help align the industry with government and international targets for reducing emissions and preventing global warming beyond 1.5 degrees.

A government spokesperson said it was “harnessing the power of the financial system” to help meet its net zero goal by 2050.

“This includes making climate disclosures mandatory across the economy by 2025, forcing our financial regulators to consider our zero net commitment, announcing plans for the UK’s first ever green bond and the creation of a UK infrastructure bank that will unlock investments in the transition to net zero. “

Pôle Sud, which carried out the analysis, assessed the carbon emissions linked to loans and investments of an “indicative sample” of fifteen banks and ten asset managers.

In order to keep global temperatures as low as 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels and to avoid further damage from climate change, we need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by around 45% compared to 2010 levels by 2030, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

But since countries including the UK signed the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 ° C target in 2015, the world’s 60 largest banks have provided £ 2.7 trillion to the Paris Agreement. fossil fuel industry, according to Rainforest Action Network.

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