“Lägg om växeln/Change the gear”

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Sweden - The seven largest banks in Sweden invest almost twice as much of the savers' money in fossil energy compared to sustainable energy. After the Paris agreement, Nordea and SEB have lent billions to large coal and oil companies. This is what our latest report shows which was made together with the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation and Diakonia.

Of every hundred cent that Swedish banks invest and lend to the energy sector, SEK 64 goes to fossil energy and only SEK 36 to sustainable energy. This shows a new major survey of the banks' investments and lending during 2016 and 2017, the years after the Paris agreement was concluded. In total, the banks invested SEK 44.2 billion in fossil energy and only SEK 9.8 billion in sustainable energy.

- The Paris Agreement says that the financial flows must be redirected to support sustainable development. The banks' continued support for the fossil industry goes beyond that goal, says Anna Axelsson, police advisor on climate issues at Diakonia.

The largest investments in fossil energy are Nordea and Swedbank with SEK 15.5 and 9.8 billion, respectively. However, Länsförsäkringar, SEB and Swedbank have the largest shares in fossil energy in terms of the banks' relative share of their capital. Skandia and Handelsbanken have the largest share of sustainable energy.

When it comes to new loans to companies, the results look much better. There, 50 percent went to sustainable energy and 39 percent to fossil energy, and the rest to other energy. However, almost SEK 16 billion was still lent to fossil energy, where SEB and Nordea accounted for over 80 percent. Nordea has lent billions to Russia's largest coal company SUEK, and SEB has lent large sums to US oil giant ConocoPhilips.

- This type of lending should cease immediately. It is a direct support for the fossil companies that enable them to continue their climate-destroying activities, ”says Jakob König, project manager for the Fair Finance Guide on Sweden's Consumers.

The survey has taken almost a year to complete. The lack of transparency in the banks' lending makes it difficult to obtain an overall picture of the financial operations.

- It is high time that politicians act to increase transparency. Swedish bank customers must see what their money on the bank is used for, says Jakob König.

Improvements after the Paris Agreement
 - All banks have tightened their climate guidelines.
 - The banks have increased the share of investments in renewable energy from 12 to 28 percent.
 - For new lending to companies in the energy sector, 50 per cent of the money went to sustainable energy and 39 per cent to fossil energy.
 - Skandia has made a billion investment in wind farms.

Continued problems after the Paris agreement
 - Swedish banks have invested SEK 44.2 billion in fossil energy and only SEK 9.8 billion in sustainable energy.
 - No Swedish major bank has set clear, measurable targets for increasing investments and financing of sustainable energy and reducing fossil energy.
 - The banks still do not report how work on reducing their climate risks continues.
 - Lack of transparency makes it difficult to get an overall picture of the banks' climate work, for example which companies the banks support.
 - Nordea and Swedbank have invested SEK 15.5 and 9.8 billion fossil energy respectively.

Read the full report here


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