How we measure

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We make our biggest contribution to a sustainable future through our financing. We are committed to better understanding the impact of our lending activities and working with our clients to drive progress on climate action and financial health. We have ambitious targets to guide us.

The Terra approach

We have a loan book of over €700 billion euros across many sectors, which we are steering towards meeting net-zero climate goals. We call this the Terra approach.

Responsible finance

We continue to fund companies and sectors that are helping the transition to a low-carbon economy. This includes funding projects that advance renewable energy, the circular economy and help combat climate change. We support these clients though our climate finance portfolio.

We also focus on projects that lead to, for example, affordable housing or basic infrastructure improvements. We call this social impact finance. And we serve clients considered to be environmental, social and governance (ESG) leaders in their respective industries.

In 2020, our climate finance portfolio decreased by 12% to €16.5 billion, while lending to industry ESG leaders tripled to €28.5 billion compared to the previous year. Our social impact finance portfolio stood at €533 million in 2020. The tables below provide a breakdown of our responsible finance portfolio as of December 2020.

Responsible finance portfolio as of December 2020
  EUR billion
Industry ESG leaders 28.5
Climate finance 16.5
Social impact finance 0.5
1 The outcome industry ESG leaders is derived from the management scores of ESG ratings provider Sustainalytics.
2 If criteria are strengthened, the new criteria are applied from the moment they are implemented. Outcomes of transactions finalised prior to such changes remain "as is" at the time they were completed.
3 The amounts reported under climate finance or social impact finance may overlap with industry ESG leaders. The category outstandings should not be added up.
4 A list of sub-categories that are in scope of the methodology/definition but that have zero-to-low exposure can be found at the bottom of this page.
5 All figures listed in lending outstandings are as of December 2020.

Climate Finance 
in EUR million 2020 2019
Energy transition 5,322 6,639
Low carbon buildings 9,865 10,593
Energy efficiency 0 133
Transport 1,086 917
Circular economy 7 -
Waste management 21 41
Information technology and communications 53 30
Water (including climate adaptation) 117 251
Other climate finance 26 76
Total 16,498 18,680

Social Impact Finance
in EUR million 2020 2019
Basic infrastructure 275 447
Community development 49 20
Essential services 209 283
Total 533 750

Sustainable investment services

ING offers Sustainable investment (SI) services to our retail banking customers in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany.

The services include brokerage, advisory and discretionary management. We provide dedicated portfolios, structured products and investments funds, and cover all asset classes.

ING has developed a methodology to assess all asset classes including fixed income, equity and investment funds based on a diverse set of environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria.

Our company-level analysis integrates a positive and a negative ESG screening. The positive screening covers over 100 ESG criteria assessing the risk, reputation and opportunities profile of each company. We choose to invest in the companies with the best ESG profile in each sector. The negative screen excludes companies with a track record of negative corporate conduct or whose products and services have negative impacts.

In our investment funds selection we also apply a two-step process: a quantitative and qualitative screen. The quantitative screen is conducted to understand the ESG profile of the asset and the fund manager. It covers nine ESG categories across the areas of products, selection methodology and governance. The qualitative screen consists of an interview with the fund manager focused on their conviction and ESG approach. In a final step we validate the fund’s investments against our sustainable investing portfolio. More information on our methodology is available here.

In 2020, our retail customers in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands invested a combined € 13.2 billion using ING’s SI services, up from € 9.3 billion in 2019. We have the ambition to maintain this growth.

ING is a service provider signatory to the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment and has committed to incorporating ESG issues into the investment decisions, policies and processes that underpin our investment services.

Definition industry ESG leaders:

Industry environmental, social and governance leaders (IESGL) are clients that ING considers ’best-in-class’ based on a strong management score (50 or higher) by ESG rating provider Sustainalytics. This score refers to how well a company is managing its relevant ESG issues. It assesses the robustness of a company’s ESG programs, practices and policies. Companies or sectors that are restricted by ING’s Environmental and Social Risk policy (for example coal companies) are excluded, as well as companies with high or severe controversies as determined by Sustainalytics.

Definition and sub-categories climate finance:

ING’s climate finance portfolio includes projects that advance renewable energy, circular economy and help combat climate change. Transactions in this portfolio are in line with:

  • ING’s scorecards[1]: These scorecards are used by front office teams to determine if the transaction meets the sustainability criteria in its respective sector. These scorecards increase accuracy and consistency and follow market standards.
  • Green loan principles[2]: These are a set of voluntary guidelines issued by the Loan Market Association to aid the development of a market-standard approach to green lending.

The sub-categories of ING’s climate finance portfolio can be summarised as follows:

  • Energy transition
  • Low carbon buildings
  • Transport
  • Water
  • Information technology and communications
  • Circular economy
  • Waste management
  • Others

[1] Except for the Energy Transition portfolio. These transactions include renewable energy transaction booked in ING’s Wholesale Banking Energy department and are in line with the following industry codes: (i) Biomass (ii) Hydro, (iii) Solar, (iv) Wind Onshore and Offshore and (vi) Wave and tidal
[2] Documents (

Definition and sub-categories social impact finance:

ING’s social impact finance portfolio includes projects with positive social outcomes, like affordable housing or basic infrastructure improvements. Transactions in this portfolio are in line with ING’s scorecards. The sub-categories of ING’s social impact finance portfolio can be summarised as follows:

  • Basic infrastructure
  • Community development
  • Affordable housing
  • Essential services
  • Employment generation
  • Food security
  • Socioeconomic advancement and empowerment
  • Healthcare
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