Barclays delivered £21bn for sustainability projects in 2016

Multinational bank Barclays raised £21.1bn in finance for environmental and societal schemes in 2016 as part of a fresh strategy that focuses on enhancing the sustainability of its business model.

As revealed today (23 February) in Barclays’ annual report, which showed profit before tax of £3.2bn for 2016, the newly-launched Shared Growth Ambition programme helped clients raise £1.5bn in green bonds and supported the investment of more than 500MW of clean energy in the UK and Ireland in 2016.

The report shows that Barclays reduced carbon emissions by 15.8% on a 2015 baseline and offset the remaining emissions through the purchase of carbon credits. The bank has set a new target of a further 30% by 2018, which it aims to meet by investing in low-carbon technology and improving the energy efficiency of its operations.

Barclays Group chief executive James Staley said: “In one way or another, finance when delivered with transparency and integrity makes a fundamental difference to everyone’s lives. The profession of finance is absolutely integral to the successful running and growth of healthy economies, and in giving everyone access to a more prosperous future. This is the core focus of our Shared Growth Ambition.”

Better Barclays

Barclays has pledged to continue a commitment to drive new sources of sustainable growth to help meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Current projects include finance for the first energy-from-waste (EfW) plant to be supported under the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme and a 344MW solar PV portfolio in the UK.

Barclays has joined forces with entrepreneurial platform Unreasonable Group to launch a programme focused on scaling up sustainable solutions to global challenges. One of the schemes to benefit from the initiative is Growing Underground, London’s first subterranean farm, which utilises LED lighting and hydroponic growing systems to sustainably grow fresh herbs and salads year-round.

“I’m immensely proud of the work that is reflected in this report,” Staley said. “The progress we have made in the first year of our Shared Growth Ambition is a significant step towards building a better Barclays and I’m looking forward to seeing what more we can achieve in the years to come.”

The research arm of Barclays has previously found that the UK will need to invest an “eye-watering” £215bn in its energy system by 2030 in order to replace aging assets and decarbonise. Last month, the bank revealed that British manufacturers could inject £2.56bn into the UK economy and cut energy consumption by nearly a third over the next decade by investing in clean technologies and efficiency measures.

Co-operative model

In related news, Co-op Insurance has today launched an industry-first carbon offset programme which balances a proportion of its motor and home insurance customers’ carbon emissions.

Each customer who purchases a new policy directly through Co-op Insurance will see 10% of their motor or home emissions – for the first year of their policy – offset through carbon reduction projects in the developing world which have added social and environmental benefits, at no extra cost.

The launch is part of Co-op Insurance’s commitment to do business ethically. The Co-op sources 99% of its electricity from renewable sources, including its own wind farms, and has reduced its direct carbon footprint by 43% since 2006.

Co-op Insurance chief executive Mark Summerfield said: “We were one of the first businesses to recognise and respond to the impacts of climate change, since then we have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions from our operations, purchased renewable electricity and have offset more than a million tonnes of carbon since we first introduced carbon offsetting on our products 10 years ago.

“We are now offering a carbon offset as standard on all home and motor policies in the first year, at no extra cost to our customers, and are making sure to choose offset projects that are checked to a stringent standard and have added benefits in the developing world, whether that’s contributing to the local economy, protecting people’s health, or reducing deforestation.”

George Ogleby

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