Banks urged to go "green"
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Banks are contributing to global warming by funding coal and oil exploration, and should adopt policies that cut their negative impact on the environment, according to a report by a network of NGOs. BankTrack, a grouping of civil society organizations and individuals tracking the financial sector, said banks should end support for all new coal, oil and gas extraction and delivery projects, new coal-fired power plants and the most harmful practices in other greenhouse-gas intensive sectors.
"Banks are in a unique position to either finance business as usual and be complicit in causing further climate change, or help catalyze the necessary transition to a new economy," said BankTrack in a report called "A Challenging Climate."
U.N. talks in Bali, Indonesia, this week are trying to set a roadmap to a climate pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, but the United States is opposed to binding targets, while developing nations such as China want access to clean technologies.
Deutsche Bank has said government efforts to tackle climate change are creating a "megatrend" investment opportunity that should tempt even those skeptical about global warming.
By October, the German bank had attracted more than $8.5 billion into climate change funds, which target firms that cut greenhouse gases or help adaptation to a warmer world.
BankTrack said banks should assess and report on all greenhouse gas emissions associated with their loans, investments and financial services, and establish stringent portfolio and business-unit emissions reduction targets.
The report said banks should also increase support for the development of climate-friendly technologies, such as renewable energy production and energy efficiency -- but avoid "false solutions" such as nuclear power, large hydropower or biofuels. Morgan Stanley has said global sales from energy sources like wind, solar, geothermal and biofuels could grow to as much as $1 trillion a year by 2030. The bank said last year it will invest $3 billion in carbon markets over five years.
"All large banks nowadays seem to have a climate initiative of sorts, but these barely scratch the surface of what really needs to happen," said Johan Frijns, coordinator of BankTrack.
Utrecht-based BankTrack is funded by private foundations and government agencies.
(Reporting by Neil Chatterjee, editing by Jan Dahinten)