For years, ShareAction, a London-based charity, has been undertaking one of the toughest chores in the ESG movement: pushing banks and investment firms to use their clout to address climate change. Catherine Howarth, the group’s CEO, explains how the campaign is finally making progress, and why the next phase is critical.
Quartz: Banks are white-collar businesses that don’t spew carbon emissions into the atmosphere like oil companies or mining outfits. Why go after them?
Howarth: It’s true, banks are basically negligible carbon emitters with their offices, and many have signed up to renewable energy standards and curbing indirect Scope 1 and 21 operational impacts. But the Carbon Disclosure Project has found that banks’ financing activities create 700 times as much climate impact as their business operations. It’s all about Scope 3 for the banks. And they have the power—where banks lend creates the future economy for all of us. So that’s why we are going after banks.