Approach to climate change

Climate change is a major global issue and we are committed to the role we need to play in addressing the problem through the services we provide and the way we run our bank.

The most important thing we can do is help our customers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and save energy and costs. Over several years we’ve sustained our focus on this area and we are now recognised by InfraDeals as the leading lender to the UK renewables sector by number of transactions over the past 5 years (2012-2016). But we know we can go further and we want to help all of our customers realise the benefits of cutting carbon and saving money.

At the same time, we recognise that we can support customers in carbon-intensive industries to diversify and move away from the most high-impact activities. RBS currently has a range of policies and procedures in place for the Power, Oil & Gas, and Mining & Metals sectors to ensure we assess the environmental, social and ethical risks associated with specific clients and projects. Where clients or projects don’t meet our criteria, we will withdraw our support. This means we will not, for example, provide funding to undiversified thermal coal mining companies. We also plan to continue reducing our exposure to thermal coal year-on-year as that energy source declines in the UK energy mix.

Finally, we have much work to do in eliminating the net carbon footprint of our own operations and supply chain. We have set an interim target of reducing our emissions from Scope 1, Scope 2 and business travel by 20% between 2014 and 2020 and we have also created the Innovation Gateway, a programme to find new ideas from outside the bank that will help us reduce it by much more.

Our overall approach to climate change will evolve and adapt over the coming years as we listen to our customers and stakeholders and refine our approach. But it forms a logical part of our plan to run a much simpler, stronger, fairer bank.

We have recently signed the European Financial Services Round Table (EFR) Statement on Climate Change in support of a strong, ambitious response to climate change at the Paris COP21 summit. In addition, we have signed the ‘Paris Pledge for Action’ to demonstrate that we are ready to support the implementation of an agreement. 

For more information about our broader financing of the energy sector, our lending to the Sustainable Energy sector and what we are doing around our own environmental footprint please see below: