Barclays announces ‘ambition’ to reach net zero by 2050

Barclays has announced plans to “become a net zero bank by 2050”.  It said, “We’ve made a firm commitment to align our entire financing portfolio to the goals of the Paris Agreement.  That means our own operations, and the financing we do for our clients, in every sector, will support the goal of limiting global warming.”

But the announcement got short shrift from Greenpeace UK, whose climate finance adviser, Charlie Kronick, describes it as “headline-baiting”. He complained that it comes as Barclays’ updated energy policy continued to finance high-carbon tar sands and fracking. He described it as, “an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of shareholders who rightly want the bank to end its contribution to catastrophic climate breakdown”.

Barclays said an existing plan to be net zero by 2030 for direct greenhouse gas emissions (so-called Scope 1) and indirect emissions from the consumption of purchased electricity and heat (Scope 2) was “well underway and on track”.

It claimed that “on some definitions” it could be described as net zero already, because it had halved operational emissions by procuring green energy and offset the residual footprint from its properties and business travel. But only 60% of its energy procurement is currently sourced from renewables: it is targeting 90% by 2021 and 100% goal by 2030.

The new 2050 target would require it to tackle ‘Scope 3’ emissions, which would cover the footprint of the business activities it finances.  But sceptics say the new ambition also “to be net zero in Scope 3, across all of our financing activity, in all sectors by 2050” has no targets or detail.

Barclays said was “setting transparent targets” and promised to report on progress from 2021.  It also said it was also “significantly increasing” existing targets for green financing. It has begun work on creating new, open-source tools required to map the greenhouse gas emissions in its portfolio.

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