January 10, 2008

Banks should encourage Green Practices

Banks around the world are uniquely positioned to push private-sector companies to adopt environmentally conscious practices, say the authors of a report released on Thursday.

It is important that banks start to consider the long-term financial ramifications of lending money to companies that produce high levels of greenhouse gases, says Ceres, a coalition of investors and environmental groups.

"As one of the world's largest economic sectors, and as one that reaches virtually every consumer and business, the financial services industry must be involved in mitigating climate change and its impacts," said Ceres president Mindy Lubber.

The report ranks 40 of the world's biggest banks on how they are addressing climate change.

The Bank of America is the only bank committed to reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions associated with its loan book. None of the banks have adopted policies to discourage investment heavy polluting projects like coal-fired plants.

Three Canadian banks are included in the survey, with Royal Bank of Canada ranked highest at 16. The Bank of Nova Scotia and Toronto-Dominion Bank slotted in at 26 and 29, respectively.

The Ceres report evaluates how banks are dealing with climate change through board oversight and management practices. It looks at 15 European, five Asian, one Brazilian and three Canadian financial institutions.

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