Bank of Ireland to Set Scientifically-Validated Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Targets

Bank of Ireland announced 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction targets which have been formally “validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).”

The Bank is reportedly the first Irish bank, and one of the first in Europe, “to have its goals validated by the SBTi, and will regularly and transparently report on progress towards its targets.”

The SBTi has “validated Bank of Ireland’s target of a 49% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from its own operations (Scope 1 and 2) by 2030, which supports its broader aim of net zero emissions by 2030.”

Reduction targets have also “been set for emissions arising from the Bank’s lending activities (Scope 3) which are consistent with levels required to meet the goals set by the Paris Agreement, and are supported by increased sustainable lending as part of the important green transition for wider society.”

Under the targets, Bank of Ireland is “committing to a 48% reduction in mortgage portfolio emissions (Ireland & UK) and a 56% reduction in commercial real estate portfolio emissions by 2030.”

The base year for the reduction targets “is 2020.” 25% of the Bank’s corporate loan portfolio will “have SBTi-validated targets by 2025.”

The SBTi is “a collaboration between the Carbon Disclosure Project, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute and the Worldwide Fund for Nature.”

It defines and “promotes best practice in science-based target setting and independently assesses companies’ emission reduction goals.” At end 2021, “more than 2,200 companies covering over a third of the global economy’s market capitalization, were working with the SBTi.”

Eamonn Hughes, Chief Sustainability & Investor Relations Officer, said:

“The SBTi plays an extremely important role in ensuring emission reduction ambitions set by businesses are in line with the latest climate science. These independently validated targets will guide our emission reduction plans and are contingent on the current Irish and UK governments’ Climate Plan ambitions and planned actions. We are proud to be the first Irish bank to have these targets approved.”

Hughes added:

“The vast majority of our emissions are associated with our lending into the economy so meeting these challenging targets will require real progress on national climate action plans in both Ireland and the UK. It will also, of course, depend on our customers’ own actions. Our ambition is to strongly support them in their transition to a greener way of living and doing business.”

As noted in the update:

“The financial services sector is embedded in our economies and societies, and from this position it can be a key enabler of the low-carbon transition. Bank of Ireland’s setting of emission reduction targets shows its commitment to supporting real change for our customers and society.”

As mentioned in the announcement, Bank of Ireland is “committed to supporting the transition to a resilient, net zero economy by 2050, in line with the ambitions and actions of the Irish and UK Governments and the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

The Bank will “help facilitate this transition through its core financing and advisory capabilities and will continue to develop and expand its range of sustainable products and services, all supported by its green bond programme.”

Progress so far includes:

  • Housing and Property: Bank of Ireland is Ireland’s number 1 green mortgage provider. As at end of Q3 2022, c.€3 billion has been drawn down by customers since Bank of Ireland launched Ireland’s first green mortgage in 2019, including loans for personal home retrofits and energy-efficiency upgrades.
  • Business: c.€1.6 billion of loans to Bank of Ireland corporate customers with pricing linked to delivery of sustainability metrics (end October 2022). Bank of Ireland has partnered with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland to make its €150m Energy Efficiency Loan Scheme available to farmers and SMEs.
  • Energy and Transport: Bank of Ireland has financed c.740 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy generating assets on the island of Ireland, enough to power c.570,000 homes. Bank of Ireland is Ireland’s largest provider of wholesale finance for electrically-charged vehicles (ECVs) providing funding for c.50% of all ECVs sold.
  • Everyday Banking: More than 750,000 Bank of Ireland customers have received bio-sourced cards, the first to be issued by an Irish bank.
  • Carbon Sequestration: The Bank’s award-winning Woodland Nature Credit is financing the planting of 600 hectares (1.8 million trees) of new native woodland across Ireland.
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