At Santander, we believe it’s the responsibility of governments, companies and people to transition to a zero-emissions economy – and entrepreneurs have a key role in this revolution.
The words "green" and "sustainable" are going to be distinguishing features of a watershed decade in the 21st century. Every day, the effects of climate change are more visible, and the need to tackle them more pressing. According to the UN, if we cannot keep temperature rise at 1.5 degrees, global warming will be long-term or irreversible. Carbon neutrality by 2050 is essential – a commitment made by 195 countries in 2015 with the Paris Agreement and ratified by the European Union in 2019 through the Green Deal to legally bind the EU to becoming climate neutral.
Fortunately, there’s more and more talk of green recovery, sustainable economy, green transition, green industry and sustainable jobs. It’s a completely intersectional movement with a broad yet highly focused goal: a net-zero carbon footprint, where the amount of carbon dioxide we can absorb cancels out the amount we release. In his new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, Bill Gates (who stepped down from the Microsoft board a year ago to join the fight to spread awareness about the climate emergency) predicts that, if we fail to become carbon-neutral in thirty years, it will have devastating and irreversible consequences. However, he does not think this task is impossible if we put all our technology, policymaking and economy into it.
Naturally, experts agree that it will require us to act in our governments, companies and daily lives. But we need to create tools, publicize them and raise awareness, which can be a job for a particularly important community: entrepreneurs.
Just as we talk about a sustainable economy, we can also talk about sustainable businesses: companies and start-ups with two basic features. One is their production models are environmentally responsible and considerate of climate change; the other is that their value propositions focus on helping accelerate the transition to a zero-emissions economy. Santander X, our global entrepreneurship network, has had the privilege of supporting and accompanying much-acclaimed sustainable entrepreneurial projects:
Sustainable entrepreneurship is not just a main driver of change but also provides a major opportunity for personal and business growth. Virtually every process needs to go green in the coming years; it's no surprise that, according to the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, the transition to sustainable, low-carbon growth could pump 26 trillion dollars into the economy and create as many as 65 million new jobs by 2030.
Santander and its commitment to sustainability
At Santander we continue to make strides in our commitment to inclusive, sustainable growth and and the fight against climate change. Our operations have already become carbon-neutral, and we’ve also announced our ambition of net-zero carbon emissions group-wide by 2050. The initial decarbonization targets we’ve set will help the transition to a low-carbon economy. By 2030, our electricity generation portfolio will have aligned with the Paris Agreement, as we cut off financing to customers that produce electricity and earn more than 10% of their income from thermal coal; and eliminate our exposure to thermal coal mining worldwide.
As part of our commitment to accelerating the transition to a zero-emission economy, we’ve launched the Santander X Environmental Challenge, a new initiative through Santander X with the Oxentia Foundation to support entrepreneurs who are concerned about the environment and have innovative ideas to build a more sustainable future.
The Santander X Environmental Challenge is the second global entrepreneurship challenge launched by Santander X, Banco Santander's global entrepreneurship network. It sets another example of our commitment to entrepreneurs, who are a main driver of economic recovery and job creation. In 2020 alone, we supported over 32,700 young entrepreneurs with more than 224 programmes and awards.