Climate change is threatening our planet. The world needs to transition to a low-carbon economy and the financial sector has an important role to play in this.
At ING we take that role seriously and want to be a banking leader in driving that transition. Our integrated approach to climate action covers four priorities:
- We want to lead by example by striving for net zero in our own operations.
- We aim to play our part in the low-carbon transformation that’s necessary to achieve a sustainable future, steering the most carbon-intensive parts of our portfolio towards reaching net zero by 2050.
- We collaborate: working with clients to achieve their own sustainability goals, and increasing our impact through partnerships and coalition-building.
- We have policies aimed at:
- managing the most relevant environmental and social risks
- fostering the protection of nature and human rights.
Changing sectors from the inside out
ING finances a lot of sustainable activities, such as green loans, green bonds, energy projects and innovative products and financing solutions. Our sustainability-linked products, for example, offer corporate clients a lower interest rate for improved sustainability performance. We’ve supported hundreds of these types of deals since we introduced them to the world in 2017.
We are proud of the progress we’ve made and also strive to move faster. But we must balance the need for urgent action with the need for an inclusive transition. As a large bank we have a role to fund what the economy currently needs to keep going.
As society transitions to a low-carbon economy, so do our clients, and so does ING. The low-carbon transition cannot happen overnight. Even though we finance a lot of sustainable activities, we still finance more that’s not, which is a reflection of the current global economy and how far the world has come. We could exit certain clients or sectors, and our loan book may then look greener, but we wouldn’t have ultimately helped change anything. 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.
Steering financing towards net-zero goals
Our Terra approach aims to steer the most carbon-intensive parts of our portfolio towards net zero. We focus on parts of the sectors in our loan book that are responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s about steering towards the new low-carbon technology needed to reach net-zero goals – like green hydrogen, carbon capture and energy storage – and away from high-carbon technology. Terra is based on data and climate science and uses what we consider to be the best-fit methodology per sector.
We continue to broaden Terra to have more impact, working to include additional carbon-intensive sectors and more parts of existing sectors.
No one can do it alone
We work with peers, clients, other companies and experts to contribute to standardised frameworks. Then ING, other banks and clients use these 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 specifically call on governments and regulators to guide the low-carbon transition more firmly. They must help answer the question "what does 'good' look like?". Ultimately, change will only come if everyone – companies, governments, consumers – works together.
What’s the deal with fossil fuels?
Yes, we’re involved in the energy sector. Around 80% of the world’s energy still comes from fossil fuels for things like heating, cooking, transportation and electricity. And while decarbonisation is crucial, the same is true for energy remaining affordable and the supply remaining secure.
We take a sector-by-sector, science-based approach and have already made important policy decisions when it comes to fossil fuels. We’ve accelerated the phasing out of financing upstream (exploration and production) oil and gas activities. These loans will be reduced by 35% by 2030 and will be zero by 2040. That’s ten years sooner than most scenarios.
We’re also reducing the financing of coal-fired power plants to close to zero by 2025, we stopped the dedicated project financing of new oil & gas fields and restricted the financing of the midstream infrastructure that supports the development of those fields.
The best way to reduce fossil fuel demand is to increase the availability of renewable energy. More than half of our power portfolio is already renewables and we set a target to triple our investments in renewable energy to €7.5 billion per year by 2025.