ING’s move to stop financing upstream oil and gas projects by 2040 and up its renewables backing is good but not good enough, said environmental campaigners who accused the Dutch banking giant of continuing to “fan the flames” of the climate crisis in the meantime.
ING today (Wednesday) announced its move to stop financing of oil & gas exploration and production projects by 2040 and triple its backing of renewable energy over the next two years.
It said it had taken the decision after world leaders at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai agreed this month to transition away from fossil fuels, while tripling global green energy capacity by 2030.
ING said it will speed up phasing out the financing of upstream (exploration and production) oil & gas activities in line with guidance from the International Energy Agency.
ING confirmed to Recharge that it currently has a €4bn ($4.4bn) upstream oil and gas portfolio.
It will cut loans to upstream activities by 35% by 2030 before ending them entirely by the following decade.
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It will continue to fund midstream and downstream projects, which refer to oil & gas transportation and conversion into fuels, with its current portfolio in those areas standing at around €10bn.
ING CEO Steven van Rijswijk said the move builds on the progress made by world leaders at COP28 as well as the latest scientific research.
‘Our planet is on fire’
Environmental group Greenpeace was however less convinced by the announcement, claiming the move away from fossil finance is too slow.
“It is great that ING confirms the agreements from Dubai,” said Maarten de Zeeuw, a climate expert at Greenpeace’s Dutch branch.
But while this is a “step in the right direction,” de Zeeuw stressed that “our planet is on fire.”
“Let’s face it: just stepping away from the fire isn’t enough, as long as you keep fanning the flames in the meantime.
“ING continues to finance companies drilling for new oil and gas. And while the science is clear: to achieve the target of 1.5 degrees, there is no longer room for fossil projects.”
Milieudefensie, the Dutch branch of Friends of the Earth, said that ING remains a “banker of the climate crisis” and that financing new oil and gas fields until 2040 is not in line with the Paris Agreement.
Milieudefensie has previously filed a legal complaint against ING for its financing of projects harming the environment. The fact that ING is now taking a “step forward” is according to Milieudefensie due to its legal campaign against “big polluters”.
BankTrack, an NGO that tracks banks and campaigns against certain activities they finance, said that the steps taken by ING “lack ambition”.
The company should “urgently commit” to stop financing and underwriting companies that develop new coal, oil or gas projects incompatible with reaching net zero by 2050, BankTrack added.
ING for its part stressed that the energy transition “cannot happen overnight,” so even though it finances “a lot of sustainable activities, we still finance more that’s not.”
“That is a reflection of the current global economy, how far the world has come and still needs to go.”