Sustainable business is better business. That is why our responsibility is to use our financing, advisory products and services to actively support clients transition to new sustainable business models that will ensure their success in the future. As a financial institution, we can play a role by financing change, sharing knowledge and using our influence.
Making money matter
- We finance change, because being sustainable is not just about reducing our own footprint, it is in all the choices we make—as a lender, as an investor and through the services we offer our customers. As a financial institution we can have more impact by helping our clients to become more sustainable through sustainable financing.
- We share knowledge in our role as a conduit between clients who have capital and clients who need it. We take this opportunity and responsibility to direct funds towards sustainable projects. Our global expertise in various sectors allows us to guide clients towards embedding sustainability in their business models.
- Finally, we use our influence and get involved in policymaking to make a difference on a large scale. We call upon governments to create incentives for long-term investments by setting science-based targets to mitigate climate change and to develop alternative energy sources. We also urge governments to work towards an effective price on carbon emissions and to stimulate enterprises and institutions to publicly disclose their carbon emissions and forward-looking transition strategy. This will enable banks to take climate impact into account in financing and investment decisions.
Discover the ING climate action
Pioneers in sustainable finance
We have financed billions of euros of renewable energy projects while saying ‘no’ to certain companies and sectors, and ‘yes, but’ to others, outlining sustainability improvements they have to make based on our ESR framework. We finance sustainable projects through green loans, green bonds, and other innovative products and financing structures such as our Sustainability Improvement Loan, which we pioneered back in 2017. We link the loan’s interest rate to a company’s environmental, social and governance performance (ESG). The better their ESG performance, the more attractive the terms of the loan will be to them.
Our Sustainable Structured Finance team acts as a laboratory for new sustainable business models that need financing in Europe, Middle East and Africa. We help originate, structure and execute projects which support sustainable development in areas such as the circular economy, renewable energy, waste, and water.
We continue to launch products aimed at encouraging companies to get measured on ESG goals, such as the world’s first sustainability improvement derivative and the world’s first sustainability improvement capital call facility. This way, we encourage and reward clients who are already sustainable as well as clients working to become more sustainable.
To support the strong growth of our Sustainable Finance portfolio and to meet the green funding needs, we designed a Green Bond Framework in line with the ICMA Green Bond Principles, which meets the highest standards on transparency and disclosure. We have issued the largest green Schuldschein to date with a German car manufacturer, and we help others issue green bonds too – in 2019, we supported 62 green, social and sustainability bonds and 61 sustainability improvement loans.
In 2017, ING committed €14.6 billion to climate finance, which we aim to double by 2022 for organisations that help combat climate change and positively impact society and the environment. This includes ramping up funding to projects that advance renewable energy, low-carbon buildings, low-carbon transport, sustainable water and wastewater management and the circular economy.
The circular economy offers a systemic response to the climate crisis by both reducing emissions and increasing resilience to its effects. We need to change the way we produce and consume. We need to rethink how we use raw materials and resources to create an economy free of waste and emissions. That is why circular economy solutions should firmly be in scope to limit global warming as close as possible to 1.5°C. We as a bank have to value differently, treat risk differently, and finance differently when it comes to the circular economy. Our role is important, as we can help unlock finance for new business models and engage on new value propositions with our clients.
In 2018, we launched Sustainable Investments to support sustainable scale-ups that have a proven concept and make a positive environmental impact in areas such as the energy transition, circular economy and water supply or treatment.
We are working to measure and steer our lending portfolio towards the Paris Agreement’s well-below two-degree goal, a strategy we call the Terra approach. At the heart of Terra is a measurement methodology that uses science-based climate scenarios to measure the impact of different sectors on the climate, and to set targets for each sector to transition to a low-carbon future. We use this methodology to structure deals and advise clients on how to transition to more sustainable business models.
With this approach, we are the very first bank to commit to using forward-looking science-based scenarios to steer our business strategy. Transparency is an important aspect of combatting climate change, which is why we have also published a detailed breakdown of our portfolio by sector. Still, we recognise that individual financial institutions can only do so much. The scale of the action needed is so vast that it requires a concerted collaborative and consensus-based effort. It requires unprecedented cooperation between competitors within and across industries. That is why we also looked beyond ING in building partnerships and coalitions. In December 2018, four peers signed on via the Katowice Commitment, which then became the groundwork for the UN-backed Collective Commitment to Climate Action signed by 31 banks in September 2019.
We can do it together
Almost all companies and projects can and should have sustainability considerations, whether that entails implementing alternative energy sources, recycling waste, developing green infrastructure or providing access to healthcare for underprivileged communities. But they need our help, and we cannot do it alone. The scale of the climate action needed is so vast that it requires a concerted collaborative and consensus-based effort. That is why we engage with clients, business partners and other stakeholders, we collaborate in supply chains and at industry level. If we do work together, with the necessary impetus and a strong collective will to ensure positive change, we have the resources – and just about enough time – to secure the future of the next generations and the future of this planet that is home to us all.