Top five takeaways from the 2023 Climate Report

05 October 2023 ... min read

The financial sector has a role to play in acting on climate change and supporting the transition to a net-zero economy. We take this role seriously and want to be a banking leader in driving that transition. In our latest Climate Report, released on 5 October, we share our progress on the path to net zero, including how we engage with clients.

The progress we make doesn’t happen overnight, and going green isn’t black and white. As a large bank we have an important role to fund what the economy needs to keep going and aim to do this in a sustainable way. Society is transitioning to a low-carbon economy. So are our clients, and so is ING. It’s important to remember that we finance a lot of sustainable activities, but we still finance more that’s not. We strongly believe that engaging with our clients, talking to them about their climate goals and helping finance what they need to reach them, is where we can make the most impact.

1. We help set standards to jointly tackle decarbonisation.

We work with peers, clients, other companies and experts to contribute to standardised frameworks that we, other banks and clients use to measure and disclose progress towards net-zero targets.

This is important because it means companies in the same industry, and in the same sectors of banks’ portfolios, can be compared in the same way. Banks get a shared understanding of how they can support the decarbonisation of hard-to-abate sectors.

We’ve done this with the Poseidon Principles for the shipping sector and the Sustainable STEEL Principles for the steel sector. Now we’re collaborating with RMI's Center for Climate Aligned Finance and three peers on a new methodology for the aluminium sector.

2. We’ve expanded our oil & gas approach and we’re not done yet.

We now have 2030 and 2050 targets in place for not only upstream, but also midstream and downstream parts of the oil & gas value chain. This includes extracting oil & gas, its transportation and storage, and converting oil & gas into various products.

We’re also working to expand our approach into trade and commodity finance. What this all means is that when it’s done, the full value chain of oil & gas will be covered under Terra.

In addition to steering our portfolio, we’ve already made important policy decisions to help us meet our goals, such as reducing the financing of coal-fired power plants to close to zero by 2025, stopping the dedicated project financing of new oil & gas fields and restricting the financing of the mid-stream infrastructure that supports the development of those fields.

3. We’re increasingly making climate part of business processes.

Aiming to put 'sustainability at the heart of what we do' means that we increasingly strive to embed sustainability and climate-related considerations in our decision-making and business-as-usual processes. We still have much work to do, but we’re making progress.

We’re strengthening our approach to assessing (prospective) client transactions in scope of Terra, looking at their current climate performance, their net-zero targets and their transition plans. We're also developing an online tool to collect and assess the transition plans and sustainability performance of (eventually) all Wholesale Banking clients. This will enhance our climate-related decision-making processes and also improve how we engage with existing and prospective clients.

4. We’re extending our climate alignment approach.

Terra is our approach that aims to steer the most carbon-intensive parts of our portfolio towards reaching net zero by 2050.

We continue to broaden Terra to have more impact, working to include additional carbon-intensive sectors and more parts of existing sectors. For example, whereas we previously only measured our commercial real estate portfolio for small and medium-sized businesses in the Netherlands, we now also cover the commercial buildings and offices we finance around the world.

We’re also working to expand to Business Banking clients, who account for 18% of ING’s total financed emissions. We’re first focusing on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Netherlands active in agriculture (especially dairy farming) and transportation (especially inland shipping and road transportation).

We continue to refine and optimise Terra, incorporating developments in climate science and methodologies.

Five: we really can’t do it alone.

We specifically call on governments and regulators to guide the transition more firmly. They have to help answer the question "what does 'good' look like?".

For the first time this year we’ve included detailed sector transition plans with specific calls for action at sector level.

In the meantime, we continue to press forward to make progress. Every step counts, every action is meaningful, and every tenth of a degree matters. We must all work together and make the difference.

What is Terra?

  • The Terra approach is how ING aims to steer the most carbon-intensive parts of our portfolio towards net zero by 2050.
  • We’re focusing for now on: power generation, oil & gas, automotive, shipping, aviation, steel, cement, residential mortgages and commercial real estate.
  • We are measuring whether our lending in scope in each sector is on track to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
  • Per sector, we use what we consider to be the best-fit methodology to measure and steer our loan book, acknowledging that there are many roads to net zero and in the end it’s the impact that counts.

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