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UK lenders collaborate to measure the climate impact of mortgage books

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The UK’s top three mortgage lenders have worked together to measure climate emissions related to overall lending books as part of an initiative backed by former British Bank Governor Mark Carney.

Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide and NatWest will join the growing international trend among large banks trying to respond to customer and investor pressures on balance sheet cleanup by becoming founding members of the British Union of Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials on Thursday. .

Carney, who has advised the government on climate finance since leaving the BoE and launched a “impact investment” fund with asset manager Brookfield, said the move is “an important step in ensuring that all financial decisions take into account climate change.” .

“Every company, every bank, every insurance company and investor must adjust their business model to meet their net zero emissions targets,” he added.

“For a financial company, this means looking at more than the emissions generated by their business activities.”

The new UK initiative is part of a broader effort to create a global standard for carbon accounting. Three of the top five US banks, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup, all joined PCAF earlier this summer.

PCAF secretary general Giel Linthorst said he hopes that the promises of several major banks in the US and UK will pressure competitors to make similar promises.

“We need to have a globally important financial institution to adopt, measure and report on the standard,” he said.

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Lloyds and NatWest both promised to halve the net carbon emissions associated with loans earlier this year, but admitted that they did not yet know how high the emissions were.

While some banks, such as rival Barclays, have received special scrutiny for their involvement in lending to high-altitude industries such as coal mining, accounting methods developed by the PCAF have highlighted the negative impact of less obvious activities such as mortgage lending.

Dutch bank ABN Amro, one of the earliest members of the partnership, said in its latest annual report that mortgages were indirectly responsible for 3,385 kilotons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2019.

NatWest became the UK’s first major lender to announce support for PCAF in July, but Thursday’s announcement includes a commitment to cooperation on how to implement the standard in the UK.

Other members include the CDC Group, the UK government’s development finance department, the investment fund Federated Hermes, and the sustainability-focused lender Triodos Bank.

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