Tackling climate change depends on growth to finance the investment we require. Growth will underpin the fair, secure, and affordable transition to a low-carbon economy that we all want.
We need to remember a basic truth: an orderly, just transition depends on growth. Without growth, we cannot afford the investment required.
Santander is one of the largest banks in the world by customer numbers, with a presence spanning both developed and developing markets. We are committed to being net zero by 2050, supporting the green transition and powering inclusive, sustainable, economic growth. Doing so, we are mindful of the fact that the markets in which we operate are at different stages of the green transition, with differing needs and regulatory frameworks. We are determined to work with them to deliver a transition that is just and stable, powered by growth.
We play an important role in three ways:
The International Energy Agency estimates that to meet the Paris objectives, investment in renewable energy will need to triple from current levels to around 4.5 trillion USD a year by the early 2030s, with at least 80% of that investment coming from the private sector according to the IMF.
The banking sector has a vital role in providing the financing necessary for this investment, and Santander is playing its part.
We have been financing renewable energy technology for decades, supporting some of the earliest solar farms in Spain before growing our activity to become one of the largest providers of renewable energy finance in the world, generating €105.9 billion in green finance since 2019, with a target to raise or facilitate €120bn by 2025 and €220bn by 2030.
Furthermore, through Santander Asset Management we are helping channel capital from individuals and institutions looking to support the green transition, to relevant projects and initiatives. Our aim is to reach €100bn in assets under management in Socially Responsible Investment by 2025.
According to the IEA annual clean energy investment driven by renewables and electric vehicles is already higher than the rise in fossil fuel investment. But much more is needed.
Fossil fuels continue to meet the vast majority of global energy demand. According to the Energy Institute, in 2022 almost 82% of total energy consumption globally was powered by fossil fuels, despite record investment in renewables.
Reducing this reliance on fossil fuels is critical. However, even as low carbon energy capacity grows, the reality is that we will continue to be reliant on fossil fuels to provide reliable and affordable energy for some time: without them, we risk stifling the economic growth needed to fund the transition.
As a bank, we believe our role is not to take a binary approach to fossil fuel funding, but to work with clients to support and encourage their transition from brown to green in a sustainable way.
In progressing to our 2050 Net Zero commitment, we have set decarbonization targets on high emitting sectors, and we are working with many clients to help build credible transition plans while providing the financial support needed to make those plans a reality. We are also helping individuals and SMEs transition in various ways, including the provision green mortgages and retrofitting support; renewable energy financing and advisory services; green bonds, green loans and sustainability-linked financing instruments; and financing for scaling of new technologies such as hydrogen, carbon capture, biofuels as well as energy storage more broadly.
Santander is committed to promoting sustainable development in all communities and supporting the transition to a low carbon economy, and recognizes that an orderly, just transition depends on growth. Without growth, we cannot afford the investment required.
This is true in all markets, but particularly so in the developing world. In Argentina, for example, addressing their fiscal imbalance is critical if the country is to prosper and tackle its significant economic challenges.
Another example is coal. While the economies we serve have ambitious plans to transition to renewable energy, some countries rely on coal power stations. By 2030, Santander will stop providing financial services to power generation clients with more than 10% of revenues dependent on thermal coal and eliminate all exposure to thermal coal mining worldwide.
For those reasons, Santander’s policy framework allows us to support these challenges, recognizing that a one-size fits all, binary approach will not lead to a sustainable transition. If communities and countries are left behind as economies and societies decarbonize, the social support for the necessary changes will falter, jeopardizing the fight against climate change and the accomplishment of the Paris Agreement.
Tackling the climate emergency is a highly complex challenge that requires businesses and governments to work together, acknowledging the reality and intricacy of the challenges we are facing and building credible sustainable plans that can help us reach Net Zero while generating the economic growth needed.