Retail bank aiming for a low carbon economy

To reach its goal of becoming climate neutral in 2030, De Volksbank develops an effective methodology to measure climate impact of its investments and explores partnerships with other organisations
Retail bank aiming for a low carbon economy

De Volksbank is a retail bank offering financial products in the areas of for savings, payments and mortgages. It has a total balance sheet of EUR 63 bn (2015). Having decided to follow the ambition of its subsidiary ASN Bank to become climate neutral in 2030, it cooperates with customers, peers, the Dutch Banking Asssociation and other external partners.

Climate neutral ambition

Laura van Heeswijk, Project Leader CSR at De Volksbank: “De Volksbank aims to be a sustainable bank. Climate change affects us all and we believe that everyone should contribute to adhering to the 2 degrees scenario, including ourselves. That is why we decided to follow ASN Bank’s ambition and joined the process and strategy to become climate neutral for all of our investments in 2030. On the one hand, we need to reduce our CO2 losses, mainly caused by the private homes we finance. We inform our customers about energy saving options and have started a number of pilots on insulating homes and offering a reduced rate for an energy for an energy-saving consultation. We presented our ambition to reduce the CO2 emissions of our mortgage portfolio at the climate summit in Paris in 2015. On the other hand, we have to increase our Co2 profits by investing in green projects and green bonds.”

Supporting the financial sector’s climate agenda

“Together with ING bank, we supported the Dutch Banking Association to publish a 10-point action plan for the responsibility of banks in relation to climate change. In the Climate Statement, 10 Dutch banks make a commitment to reduce their impact on climate change. We also urge the government to impose legislation on companies to report on their CO2 emissions. The Climate Statement shows that banks act, communicate and cooperate on their ambition for CO2 emission reduction. Collaboration is necessary for environmental sustainability and banks can take a leading role in the transition to a low-carbon economy.”

Cooperation and partnerships are essential in making the Dutch housing stock sustainable


Engaging others

“We believe it is essential to engage others in combating climate change, as it is both a global and complex issue. Therefore, the methodology that ASN Bank developed and we expanded together, is publicly accessible and open source. ASN Bank took the lead in setting up the Platform Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF) in 2015. Together with other Dutch financial institutions, we developed a methodology to measure the climate impact of our investment portfolios and develop long-term climate ambitions. Within PCAF, we are taking the lead in exploring the possibilities of improving the accuracy and quality of energy use data. This means we explore partnerships with other organisations such as Dutch grid operators to improve our calculations on the CO2 emissions or our mortgage portfolio. That will result in a better understanding of the energy use of our portfolio and provide valuable insights to develop and improve our sustainable customer propositions. Besides improving data quality, De Volksbank is also engaged in a partnership with to stimulate and develop energy-saving solutions for our customers.”

De Volksbank (former SNS Bank N.V.) was one of the frontrunners that formed part of a Community of Practice of Financial Institutions and Natural Capital (CoP FINC), which aimed to accelerate the transition to sustainable finance. This solution is part of a larger series of best practices that resulted from this CoP.

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