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Deutsche Bank creates criteria for classifying ESG financing

Deutsche Bank has announced that it will, with immediate effect, conduct its sustainable finance and sustainable financial product activities in accordance with its newly published Sustainable Finance Framework, which is aligned on a best effort basis to the EU Taxonomy. The Framework creates the basis for the bank to achieve its ambitious sustainability targets in accordance with credible criteria. According to the targets published by the bank in May, it plans to increase its volume of sustainable financing and portfolio of environmental, social, governance (ESG) investments under management to over €200bn in total by the end of 2025.

The new Sustainable Finance Framework defines a global process and creates Group-wide rules for the criteria which the bank may use in future to classify fixed-income and securities transactions, capital market products and financing offers as sustainable. The Framework stipulates sector-specific thresholds and eligibility criteria, as well as the environmental and social criteria that apply to the due diligence process for sustainable finance.

For instance, a financing project may only be classified as sustainable if its proceeds are used solely for a project that fulfils the environmental or social eligibility criteria of the in-house taxonomy and it is then approved by the bank’s Environmental and Social Due Diligence process.

Positive second party opinion from Institutional Shareholder Services ESG

The independent consultancy ISS ESG confirmed in a second party opinion that Deutsche Bank’s Framework is consistent with “best market practices” and that its content is aligned with the bank’s existing sustainability criteria. Furthermore, ISS ESG concluded that the standards applied by the Framework to define transactions as sustainable are ambitious and credible. Deutsche Bank “is among the first international banks to explicitly refer to the EU Taxonomy in its group-level sustainability policy”.

“This Sustainable Finance Framework is one precondition for enabling us to become a trailblazer in this area in the financial sector," commented Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing. "It helps us provide our clients with the clarity they need and the guidance they require regarding ESG financing and ESG financial products - including their own transformation to a sustainable business model.”

Framework based on ICMA Principles and EU Taxonomy

The new framework is based on the Green Bond Principles and the Social Bond Principles of the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) and follows the latest guidance in the EU Taxonomy developed by the European Union’s Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance. Alignment to the EU Taxonomy is currently difficult for financial service providers for several reasons. For example, there is still too little data available in some cases to carry out the complex evaluations required concerning whether a project meets EU standards.

Deutsche Bank has said that it will continue to work together with other global banks as part of the joint Finance Initiative of the United Nations Environmental Programme's and the European Banking Federation to develop a common approach for implementing the EU Taxonomy.

More banks join the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials

Elsewhere in green finance, Citi and Bank of America have announced they will join the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials, a global framework for financial institutions to measure and disclose the emissions from their lending and investment portfolios. Last week, CTMfile reported the news that Morgan Stanley had become the first global US bank to commit to this initiative.

“Citi and Bank of America’s decision to join Morgan Stanley in committing to disclose emissions represents great progress," said Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow. "This chain of announcements demonstrates the mainstreaming of the financial sector’s need to take responsibility for its massive carbon footprint. These announcements represent a clear signal that carbon-heavy investments have no future.” 

“We are pleased to finally see this movement within the financial sector," added Lila Holzman, energy program manager of As You Sow. "Investors have increasingly asked banks to address their significant contribution to climate change - measuring and disclosing emissions is a critical first step. We look forward to seeing the banks follow through on this commitment and recognise this as the precursor for setting targets to reduce portfolio emissions in alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement.”

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