UK banks responsible for nearly double annual CO2 emissions

UK banks and investors are responsible for almost twice the nation’s annual carbon emissions, according to a new report from Greenpeace UK and WWF.

The study, which suggests that finance is one of the UK’s biggest contributors to climate change, found that banks and asset managers made up 1.8 times the annual net emissions of the UK as a whole.

The research reveals that British banking groups and asset managers financed 805 million tonnes worth of CO2 in 2019, which would make The City of London the ninth biggest emitter of C02 in the world if it were a country. This means that the capital is ranked higher than the whole of Germany in terms of carbon emissions.

“Finance is the UK’s dirty little secret,” said John Sauven, Greenpeace UK’s executive director. “Banks and investors are responsible for more emissions than most nations and the UK government is giving them a free pass.”

Sauven added: “How can we say we’re ‘leading the world on climate action’ while allowing financial institutions to plough billions into fossil fuel production every year? The claim is almost laughable.”

Tanya Steele, chief executive of WWF UK, said that trying to set a path to net-zero emissions without tackling the UK financial sector is like “sticking a plaster when the patient needs open heart surgery.”

“Despite seeing ambitious commitments to tackle the climate emergency, our finance sector is still driving global investment towards the old, destructive ways of doing business that are destroying our one shared home,” said Steele. “The UK financial sector could be the first in the world to be aligned with the Paris Agreement targets – and reap the rewards as global business shifts towards clean, green investments.

She added: “But it’s clear voluntary pledges aren’t getting the job done. The UK Government must show the global leadership expected of the COP26 Presidency and commit to mandating all financial institutions to have net zero transition plans that cover their investments in every corner of the globe.”

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