"Whilst the focus of attention at the moment has, quite rightly been on our response to COVID-19, Net Zero remains a legislative and environmental necessity."

Fiona Cannon
Group Sustainable Business Director
05 April 2020
3 min read

We have all been affected by the ongoing impact of COVID-19. It’s one of the most complex issues we have ever faced. But as World Environment Day reminds us, the long term challenge of tackling climate change and the commitment to transitioning to a low-carbon future remains.

Last month, we were delighted to be the highest ranked UK bank and second overall in the latest ShareAction Banking on a low-carbon Future report. This is recognition of the significant progress made over the last two years.

We’ve worked hard to be transparent in our efforts to manage both the risks and opportunities associated with climate change. It’s been a genuine team effort and testament to the commitment of many people across the business to get us to where we are now. In particular the collaborative work between the Group’s central sustainability team and the core business areas.

Together they have driven the sustainability agenda forward helping to embed it into the heart of our Helping Britain Prosper purpose.


Green bottles in a heap

Our ambitious goal is to help reduce the carbon emissions we finance by more than 50% by 2030

However, the report also highlights that Financial Services has lagged behind other industries and much more needs to be done across the sector to help realise a low-carbon future.

In January, we announced a new ambitious goal to work with customers, government and the market to help reduce the carbon emissions we finance by more than 50 per cent by 2030.

Whilst the focus of attention at the moment has, quite rightly been on our response to COVID-19, Net Zero remains a legislative and environmental necessity. The country has made a commitment to change the way we live and work and we believe that the transition to Net Zero through sustainable growth will be core to the economic recovery in 2020 and beyond. If there is a positive to take from the last couple of months – it presents an opportunity to build a more resilient economy for the whole of the UK.

We know that pre-COVID the Green economy was projected to grow at 11% a year, with low-carbon technologies fast representing the future of British business. This growth rate was around four times the rate of the standard economy. Investing in the low-carbon transition is therefore a job creator as well as accelerating the transition to Net Zero. It is more important than ever that the UK meets its own climate targets and the globally binding Paris agreement.

Man in life jacket near wind turbines

Financial Services plays an important role in the wide-ranging support and investment needed to help communities to transition to a sustainable future. We’re committed to supporting the implementation of more energy efficient solutions at home and in the workplace, and also investing in large-scale renewable energy infrastructure such as the world’s biggest wind farm – Project One, in Hornsea.

Crucially, we know we can only achieve our ambitions by working alongside our strategic partners and the UK government. That’s why this week we joined over 200 other UK businesses in supporting the call to ensure that economic recovery plans align with the UK’s wider environmental goals.

We’ve also joined a number of businesses in contacting EU leaders to call for an economic recovery in the EU that includes maintaining momentum on the Green Deal and sustainable finance agenda.

The current situation continues to test us in ways we never anticipated, presenting a new set of challenges to the way we live and work. But this is also a singular opportunity to put low-carbon growth at the centre of the economic recovery - accelerating job creation and economic growth rooted in the delivery of a Net Zero future.

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