Q: As a company, you’ve committed to being carbon neutral in your own business by the end of the year. Should you also not stop financing highly-polluting businesses at the same time?
You cannot stop financing fossil fuel companies from one day to another as the impact on society would be enormous, with the greatest impact on economies and people that can least afford it.
We have to make a transition in a way that is fast but also fair. In Poland, for example, we don’t finance new customers who operate coal-based plants but we continue financing power companies as the country’s energy supply remains reliant on coal. Reducing that reliance requires new renewable energy projects, and we recently financed one of the largest photovoltaic plants in Poland. But it takes time and cutting off power in the meantime is not a feasible option.
Q: How are you helping the transition to a greener economy then?
Our role is to finance activities that will make a fast and fair transition possible. We have been one of the leading providers of renewable finance in the world over the last decade and are developing our sustainable finance [portfolio] further, engaging proactively on environmental, social and governance issues with corporate clients as well as small businesses and individuals. We have set a target to raise €220bn in green finance between 2019 and 2030 and have also committed to aligning our portfolio to reflect the need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.
Q: Are these types of initiatives enough?
I went to Greenland last year [as part of the Planeta Calleja documentary] to see the impact global warming is having first hand. I met scientist Jason Box, who is a professor in glaciology and expert on climate change. He believes that even if we assume that we will do everything we can to reduce carbon emissions, it would still not be enough. Of course, we need to act now to do everything we can to reduce emissions sustainably but investment in new technologies to capture carbon efficiently is also going to be critical.