Tensions are reportedly brewing within the Net-Zero Banking Alliance’s (NZBA) climate-conscious lenders after the group decided against imposing binding restrictions on fossil-fuel financing.
Bloomberg reported the NZBA, a sub-unit of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, is facing some “mutiny” from some of the more climate-conscious lenders after the group decided against imposing binding restrictions on fossil-fuel financing. Bloomberg explained:
The compromises in question relate to a decision late last year by the net-zero alliance to loosen ties with Race to Zero, a United Nations-backed group behind proposed restrictions that would have forced members to phase out their financing of oil, gas and coal. JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp. threatened to leave NZBA if such limits were imposed, people familiar with the process said at the time. Part of their concern hinged on the legal liability that binding terms represented, the people said.
One of the lenders, Germany’s GLS Bank, has already left the group in protest, with many others looking to walk away when reviewing their membership in the alliance if stricter restrictions are not implemented.
Due to the freedom granted by the NZBA leadership, “a significant proportion of NZBA members continue to lack an appropriate approach to their own climate and environmental impact,” a spokesperson for GLS said earlier this month, as quoted by Bloomberg.
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Jeroen Rijpkema, chief executive officer of Triodos Bank, a green lender from the Netherlands, said that the compromises made in order to keep some of the Wall Street firms on board are “disappointing and discouraging.” Additionally, the CEO of the UK’s Ecology Building Society, Gareth Griffiths, described the decision as “frustrating.”
The NZBA is not alone in facing this kind of internal pressure. Toward the end of 2022, Vanguard quit the Net Zero Asset Managers (NZAM), a similar net zero group for asset managers, citing its own desire to preserve its independence and provide clarity to investors. At the time, it was the most significant defection to date.
“We have decided to withdraw from NZAM so that we can provide the clarity our investors desire about the role of index funds and about how we think about material risks, including climate-related risks—and to make clear that Vanguard speaks independently on matters of importance to our investors,” Vanguard said in a statement at the time.