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    Handelsbanken Joins Net-Zero Emissions Rush

    Stockholm (NordSIP) – In the latest of a rush of such reports by Swedish financial institutions, Handelsbanken announced its intention to achieve net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases “as soon as possible, and by 2040 at the latest”.

    Noting that the EU’s aims to reach emissions neutrality in 2050, Handelsbanken explained it wanted to move faster because “a rapid, co-ordinated transition, aimed at limiting global warming to as close to 1.5°C as possible, would be best for our customers, for the communities we operate in, and thus also for us.”

    The headline figure was at the top of a strategic sustainability roadmap which the Swedish bank hopes to fulfil. On the responsible financing front, Handelsbanken wants ‘green’ financing to represent 20% of its lending. Moreover, the bank also announced it is aligning its investment portfolios with the Paris Agreement. Finally, in the next two years, Handelsbanken also wants to develop advisory tools and training courses to create the conditions for measurably higher returns on women’s savings and gender imbalances between men and women.

    These announcements accompanied the publication of the bank’s 2020 financial and sustainability report, which argued 2021 was a good year for Handelsbanken. According to a survey by ISS ESG, MSCI ESG Research, S&P Global SAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment and Sustainalytics, Handelsbanken was named Sweden’s most sustainable bank.

    “There is one figure that worries me, (…) and that is 1.25°C. This is not a measure of the Bank’s financial performance – but it has an impact on us, and also the rest of the world,” Carina Åkerström (Pictured), President and Group Chief Executive, commented in the report. ”It relates to the average temperature, which in the past year was 1.25°C above the pre-industrial level, meaning that we are approaching the limit of 1.5°C where climate change is expected to start having extremely serious consequences. According to the EU’s observation service, Copernicus, the year 2020 was in shared first place with 2016 as the warmest year since measurements began. In 2020, for the second year running, Handelsbanken was named Sweden’s most sustainable bank, proof that we take this matter seriously. But this work must continue and be part of everything we do at the Bank. This is why we are now establishing an ambitious sustainability goal,” Åkerström concluded.

    Image Courtesy of Handelsbanken

    Filipe Albuquerque
    Filipe is an economist with 8 years of experience in macroeconomic and financial analysis for the Economist Intelligence Unit, the UN World Institute for Development Economic Research, the Stockholm School of Economics and the School of Oriental and African Studies. Filipe holds a MSc in European Political Economy from the LSE and a MSc in Economics from the University of London, where he currently is a PhD candidate.

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