Banks, climate and energy
Banks, like all companies, produce greenhouse gases (GHG) directly through their activities. However, their most important contribution to GHG emission is indirect, through the financing of clients and projects that generate GHG emissions. Banks also continue to play a key role as major financiers of the coal, oil and gas industry, effectively delaying the much needed transition from a fossil fuel-based to an efficiency- and renewable energy-based economy. Banks must play their part in stopping climate change.
Banks and human rights
BankTrack's human rights campaign pushes for banks to fully meet their responsibilities to respect human rights and human dignity across their operations. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights provide the clearest expression yet of these responsibilities. Since 2011 our campaign has focused on benchmarking banks, challenging finance for human rights abuses and engaging for better international standards.
Banks and forests
BankTrack's Banks and Forest campaign focuses on the financiers of important initiators of deforestation, with the aim to push banks to act more responsibly regarding their forest-related investments. The long-term goal of our work is to help ensure that private sector banks no longer finance companies, projects and business activities that cause a large negative impact on forests. We focus primarily on the pulp & paper and palm oil sectors.
Tracking the Equator Principles
The Equator Principles are a risk management framework, created and adopted by financial institutions, for determining, assessing and managing environmental and social risks in financing projects. BankTrack, through our 'Equator Banks Act' campaign has sought to strengthen these Principles so that EP banks no longer finance climate disaster projects, or projects situated on indigenous land and territories without the consent of Indigenous Peoples.
Tracking the Principles for Responsible Banking
On September 22 2019, the United National Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP-FI) launched the Principles for Responsible Banking (PRBs), an inititive that encourages banks to align their operations with the social and environmental commitments expressed in the Paris Climate Agreement and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. BankTrack plans to monitor the implementation of the PRBs, so that they indeed deliver on what they promise.
Banks and the OECD Guidelines
The OECD Guidelines are recommendations to multinational enterprises - including banks - on responsible business conduct (RBC). They are adhered to by 48 countries and were last updated in May 2011. The OECD has a Proactive Agenda Project on RBC in the Finance Sector which BankTrack has been a part of since its initiation in 2015. As an Advisory Group member, BankTrack monitors and provides comments on the developing OECD due diligence guidance related to the financial sector.
Banks and coal
The banking sector's life support for the coal industry, in the shape of billions of dollars in financing through lending and underwriting, has to come to an end. From concerns over air pollution and acid rain to its destructive impact on the climate, coal has been recognised as the dirtiest, most dated and most inefficient fossil fuel option. It is the most emissions intensive fossil fuel and the leading cause of climate change. Globally, coal-fired power plants are the largest source of carbon dioxide – greater than tropical deforestation or oil use for transportation.