April 17, 2024

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Leadership or tackling climate change, what role does ING play?

Leadership or tackling climate change, what role does ING play?

Extinction Rebellion will block the A10 for a second time tomorrow near the former ING head office in Amsterdam. The working group wants ING to withdraw from all fossil energy sources much faster. They believe ING is further fueling the climate crisis.

RTL Nieuws wrote to all the Dutch authors of the report on emissions reductions issued by the UN Climate Panel (IPCC), asking them what they thought of ING's climate approach. Their answers show that they believe the bank plays a key role. Especially since “system changes” are needed to reduce CO2 emissions as quickly as possible.

ING announced at the end of last year that it would accelerate its financing for oil and gas extraction, to zero by 2040. In addition, the bank aims to triple its financing for renewable energy, to 7.5 billion euros annually from 2025. It was $2.5 billion in 2022. .

Banks play a crucial role in the transition

“Other investors, such as pension funds, have largely exited oil and gas. Banks are part of the financial system and are very important,” says Helene de Koninck of TU Eindhoven, vice-chair of the Science Climate Council (WKR). “

Detlef van Vuuren of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency agrees: “Banks play a crucial role. It is through their investments that they determine the direction in which we move.”

Both De Coninck and Vuuren are aware that environmental organizations are targeting a bank like ING. “I think it's good that social organizations are trying to put pressure on the financial sector to make the right choices,” says van Vuuren.

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According to him, a lot of money is needed for more renewable energy, energy saving, reducing industry emissions and ensuring homes turn off gas.

Preserve the old energy system

ING says 80 percent of the world's energy supply still depends on burning fossil fuels. “While we fund many sustainable activities, we continue to fund more unsustainable activities. This is a reflection of the current global economy,” ING said in a special statement. Climate page On the company's website.

The fact that ING has announced its desire to invest more in sustainable energy is a good thing, says De Coninck. But at the same time, ING will also have to quickly reduce its interests in the fossil fuel sector.

De Coninck: “Once you mention that, that 80 percent as an argument to say: we have to keep investing in this, because otherwise the whole energy system will collapse, yes, the result will be that the old energy system will collapse if it is preserved for a longer period.” Because: “You'll get more out of building one if dismantling the other goes faster.”

In other words: As long as ING is still investing money in companies that in turn invest in fossil energy, or its infrastructure, companies will continue to want to make money from it, and there will be emissions.

What the financial sector does also affects how people think, says Linda Steg, who works as a professor at the University of Groningen in the field of behavior change. As long as money continues to go to fossil fuels, she says, “fossil energy will remain widely available and attractive.”

“Continuing to invest in fossil fuels sends a signal to society that all is not so bad, and that we have enough time to phase out fossil fuels.”

Most scientists believe that ING could change faster. “The science clearly says that things should go faster,” says Gert-Jan Nabors of Wageningen University. He points out that even if ING stops investing in fossil fuels, some facilities could remain in use for decades.

“ING can be an important part of the solution”

Van Vuuren is more positive about ING. He believes the ambition to reach zero fossil investment by 2040 could be a “reasonable interpretation” of the Paris climate agreement, provided investments in developing new fossil resources are halted now.

However: “Is a clearer explanation possible? Yes.” and say:They can choose. As long as these countries continue to invest in fossil fuels, they will exacerbate the climate crisis. “But they could actually be an important part of the solution.”

In response to climate scientists, ING says it recognizes they play a key role. “As a bank, you can always exit quickly,” says Arno Cohen-Stuart, head of business ethics at ING. “For example, we finance mortgages, the car industry, but also steel or cement. We could easily say goodbye to a client or a sector. But I think it is It is important not so much to say goodbye to the economy, but to help the economy transform.

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The bank says it will engage in discussions with companies to develop a different business model that is better for the climate. But according to Cohen-Stewart, ING taking a faster climate approach than previously announced is not possible.

Responsibility: RTL Nieuws contacted all Dutch authors of the book Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change From 2022 on reducing emissions.

Of the six, four responded. The five are currently working on a standard for the financial sector and therefore do not want to comment on ING at this time. The sixth works abroad.