Japan’s top three banking groups recently announced plans to strengthen measures to tackle climate change, including by supporting client companies’ efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The banking groups will lend to client firms funds for investment in environmental fields and offer them advice about reviewing their management strategies in an eco-conscious manner, utilizing their ties with businesses in various industries to help drive Japan’s efforts to realize a decarbonized society.
The groups — Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. and Mizuho Financial Group Inc. — aim to reduce the balance of loans to businesses related to coal-fired thermal power plants to zero by fiscal 2040, amid growing criticism mainly in Europe and the United States for large amounts of carbon dioxide emitted by such power plants.
On May 17, Mitsubishi UFJ said it will aim to reduce to zero greenhouse gas emissions by companies which it invests in or offer loans to by 2050, becoming the first Japanese bank to lay out such a goal.
“Our group can grow only when the society is sustainable,” Mitsubishi UFJ President Hironori Kamezawa told reporters, indicating a policy to assist client companies’ efforts to draw up business strategies that would allow them to promote decarbonization and achieve growth at the same time.
Sumitomo Mitsui and Mizuho also plan to encourage client firms to achieve zero emissions by promoting dialogue with them and offering them related advice.
In addition, the three banking groups will promote efforts to hit the zero emission target themselves.
Pressure from key shareholders, such as pension funds, reflecting growing environmental awareness around the world is believed to be behind the Japanese banking groups’ efforts to beef up their climate change-fighting measures.
With climate change already bringing about extreme events, such as increased floods and wildfires, observers say that banks may become more selective in deciding which companies they offer loans to as they take decarbonization efforts into consideration.
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