Royal Bank of Canada plans to reduce 2030 emissions in its loan portfolio

The announcement comes ahead of the next round of global climate talks to be held in Egypt in November, and as banks and other companies are pressured by investors and policymakers to speed up efforts to transition to a low-carbon economy.

The new targets include a plan to reduce the intensity of so-called Scope 1 and 2 emissions from the oil and gas sector by 35%, those related to own operations and customers’ energy consumption. Intensity is a measure of emissions per output device.

On the more contentious issue of Scope 3 emissions, those caused by the use of products such as petrol, the bank said it aims to reduce them by 11-27%, with the final figure largely depends on the government’s policies during the period.

“Ultimately, achieving our Range 3 target range will require a concerted effort by consumers, industries and governments globally,” RBC said in a statement.

Paul Schreiber, who assesses financial institutions and their commitments for the non-profit Reclaim Finance, said RBC’s plan did not go far enough, including choosing an intensity target rather than scaling up, committing to absolute emissions reductions.

“For oil and gas targets, this means RBC could further increase its support for fossil fuels and/or an increase in fossil fuel production at the corporate level,” he said in emailed comments.

For the energy sector, RBC said it aimed for a 54% reduction in scope 1 emissions, while for the automotive sector it aimed for a combined 47% reduction in scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. All measures refer to a 2019 baseline.

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