I was recently wondering which banks are the most green. Names come to mind like Co-operative Bank (UK), Triodos Bank (Netherlands), Alandsbanken (Finland), MyBank (China), Amalgamated Bank (America) and more, but they are few and far between.
Some are committed and some are just paying lip service or, as we say, greenwashing. The difference is turning business down that is eco-unfriendly and only welcoming business that is eco-friendly. Most large banks – you know their names but, just in case – are still supporting fossil fuel firms, new fossil fuel projects and investing in fracking. This is why they are the target of the Money Rebellion.
Therefore, I found it interesting when surfing to find who are the greenest banks. Expecting the list to be a bunch of small community banks, like VDK and their brethren, FinTech Magazine finds their top 10:
- #10 Triodos Bank (Netherlands)
- #9 Nordea (Sweden)
- #8 Rabobank (Netherlands)
- #7 BNP Paribas (France)
- #6 Crédit Agricole (France)
- #5 DBS Bank (Singapore)
- #4 Swedbank (Sweden)
- #3 Standard Chartered (UK)
- #2 ING Bank (Netherlands)
- #1 KfW (Germany)
Well, there are a few big names there. Let’s just check a little.
ING Bank’s advertising video extoling the merits of their climate policy is misleading. This was the ruling of the Dutch Advertising Code Committee (RCC).
Since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, Standard Chartered has financed over $46 billion to 149 different fossil fuel companies. We’re expected to pass 1.5C of global heating in 2027 and yet Standard Chartered will not rule out financing for companies expanding fossil fuel extraction.
DBS’s ‘More like an eco-warrior, less like a bank’ ad slogan was used in a LinkedIn post that discussed the “moral dimension” of quitting coal. The chief executive of Southeast Asia’s largest bank, Piyush Gupta, was called out for defending DBS’s decision to wait until 2039 to stop financing climate-wrecking coal power in a speech that was posted on LinkedIn in August.
I could go on and recognise this is not easy. In fact, I return regularly to the words of Ana Botin, Executive Chair of Santander:
We cannot just cut the energy off, where a lot of the economy is still powered by coal. But … we are not going to finance any new coal projects. You have to find a sensible balance between transforming and supporting our customers.
Nevertheless, I would never laud or applaud any institution that is funding the destruction of our planet and our future as a sustainable financial firm. Instead, I will laud and applaud those who truly live and breathe this. So, my list are those named in the opening of this blog and not those who act as hypocrites, such as HSBC.
Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...