Sustainable finance: the future path for banking
By Agata Dondziak, ESG expert, Santander Bank Polska
Heads of state, ministers and envoys from around the world travelled to Dubai for COP28 – this year’s UN climate summit. Their priority is to make progress on energy transition and reduce greenhouse gas emissions before 2030.
The private sector, notably financial institutions, will also play a critical role determining whether COP28 is deemed successful – particularly in terms of fundraising and deployment for energy transition purposes. The finance industry is the force-multiplier that can change the game when it comes to effective climate finance.
Despite the challenges faced by the financial sector, banks are actively engaged in implementing ambitious ESG projects. Santander Bank Polska is an example of an institution that has been consistently implementing the Responsible Banking Agenda for years. Santander Bank Polska’s priority is to support the transformation of the Polish economy towards a more sustainable one, taking into account the needs of business and society. This is the responsibility of the entire financial sector, the importance of which should also be raised in political and information agendas.
Road to Net-Zero
“At the Santander Group, we believe that to support our clients in an environmentally beneficial business transformation, we must start with ourselves,” says Michał Gajewski, CEO of Santander Bank Polska.
One particularly important goal for Santander Bank Polska is to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. We are pursuing this goal by implementing the Net Zero Strategy. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions applies to both our own internal emissions and also those linked to our loans and investments (‘financed emissions’).
We have achieved the internal carbon neutrality already in 2020, which was made possible by the transition to green energy (100% of the energy purchased by the bank comes from renewable energy sources and the purchase of carbon credits, green-certified assets that offset emissions).
As part of Santander’s pursuit to net-zero we intend to cease financing power companies whose revenues from coal-fired generation exceed 10% and we want to end our lending services to thermal coal producers by 2030.
Sustainable financing’s critical role in working towards net-zero
As one of the largest banks in Poland, we are aware of our role in the transformation of the Polish economy. That’s why our focus is on inclusive and sustainable growth by financing renewable energy and supporting technology to tackle climate change (such as green tech). Santander provides genuine solutions through various financial products and services aligned with the UN´s Sustainable Development Goals that drive tangible change.
One of Santander’s priorities is to support customers in their efforts to green transition. Our goal is not only to finance what has already become sustainable but to reinforce the decarbonisation pathways to net-zero. To put our aims in motion, we offer our business customers a loan which supports investments which will contribute to modernising infrastructure (e.g. buildings, machines). The activity in turn should lead to reduction of energy consumption by at least 30% compared to current consumption.
We have recognised that it is the Polish energy sector which must live up to the enormous challenge on its way to transformation. Santander Bank Polska, therefore, has been among the signatories of the cooperation agreement with Orlen Synthos Green Energy (OSGE). The purpose of it is to provide financing for planned activities to build a fleet of BWRX-300 small modular reactors in Poland.
“Santander is one of the leaders in financing renewable and low-emission energy, and we are even more pleased that, together with OSGE, we have taken an important step in the development of this area. Our teams support OSGE in its reactor construction plans with their knowledge and commitment. I am glad that we can help in the implementation of this ground-breaking project for Poland,” says Lech Gałkowski, member of the management board of Santander Bank Polska in charge of the Business and Corporate Banking Division
As one of the largest banks in Poland, Santander Bank Polska is aware of the importance of its activities, policies and financing for the progress of the green transformation.