COP 26: Banks need to go against type to fight climate change


ank reporting season is over, near enough, and COP26 is in full swing.

A fine time for the banks to say warm (cold?) words about climate change.

And kerplunk, here comes a big report from a big bank on the urgent methods it already has in place to save the planet.

These platitudes are across 300 (recycled) pages – who can say they aren’t taking this completely seriously?

One advantage of the banks at least talking the talk, of course, is that we have something to measure their actual walking against.

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They can later be held to account, assuming enough of us are still here to so do.

A view from one director of a top bank is this: the industry has a decent chance of hitting some targets, of making a proper difference, but they have to do something that doesn’t come naturally: work together.

So, Lloyds has to ring up arch rival NatWest and say: we just screwed up on a net zero initiative. It didn’t work and it cost a bomb. Here’s how to avoid our error.

Barclays has to tell Santander that its own cross-border initiative on green fuel was a flop – a waste of brains and cash. It’s trying again and has a clever new bit of software it is more than willing to share..

Can the banks do this?

Well, it goes against type. Already there is an air of competition between big companies talking green.

A slight sense of one-upmanship. And some not very attractive chatter about how much money they might make from funding stuff that saves the planet rather than kills it.

If the banks can decide they are genuinely in it together, maybe there is hope for the rest of us.