Campaign groups’ climate dialogue with ING ends with call for IEA to develop 1.5° scenarios

Dialogue under the OECD ‘National Contact Point’ framework

A dialogue between a group of non-governmental organisations and Dutch bank ING has resulted in a joint call for the International Energy Agency to develop “as soon as possible” two 1.5° scenarios – one with and one without carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Campaigners including BankTrack, Oxfam, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace had conducted the dialogue with ING under the auspices of the National Contact Point system for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises ‘soft law’ framework, in a process run by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The NGOs had filed a complaint under the system in 2017 and a seven-page final statement was released over Easter and reflected what the NCP called a “long and winding road” of “constructive dialogue”.

One element to come out of the joint statement was the following agreement:

“ING, Banktrack, Greenpeace, Milieudefensie [Friends of the Earth] and Oxfam Novib call directly upon the Dutch Government to request the International Energy Agency to develop as soon as possible two 1.5° scenarios, one with and one without Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), that provide a 66% chance to limit global warming to below 1.5°.”

The IEA has come under fire recently from investors who argue its energy forecasts are not in line with the latest climate science, though this has been contested by its Executive Director Fatih Birol.

The new joint statement also hailed ING’s “Terra” approach, with its underlying PACTA and PCAF methodologies, “as an innovative approach towards measuring, target setting and steering the bank’s climate impact” which is a “positive development”.PACTA (Paris Agreement Capital Transition Assessment) is a tool developed by the 2° Investing Initiative while PCAF (Platform Carbon Accounting Financials) is a carbon accounting project backed by 12 Dutch financial heavyweights including PGGM, APG and Actiam.

The NCP observed that the OECD Guidelines “demand that ING, and other commercial banks, put effort into defining, where appropriate, concrete targets to manage its impact towards alignment with relevant national policies and international environmental commitments” But it was “sensitive” to the argument that financed emissions are indirect and thus more difficult to measure and control and as such is a “new field of expertise”.

Peter Ras, senior policy advisor at Oxfam Novib said: “We are happy about this well-considered decision by the National Contact Point, making it clear that banks – in order to adhere to the OECD Guidelines – must formulate concrete climate goals for their financial services that are in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.

“This means that banks in the Netherlands and abroad will have to work hard on this. It’s also very good to see that for the first time the OECD Contact Point takes a clear position on climate goals.”

“We appreciate the role the NPC played in bringing us all together and facilitating this dialogue,” said Arnaud Cohen Stuart, ING’s head of business ethics. “We’re also grateful to the NGOs for their willingness to make an effort to understand each other and for working together with us. One thing we all agree on is the need for banks to take action against climate change.”

The NCP said that all parties have agreed to an evaluation of the dialogue in the second quarter of 2020.