FCA issues warning to banks over ‘greenwashing’ in sustainable loan market

Trade watchdog The Monetary Conduct Authority (FCA) has written to banks that lend to UK firms to warn them about “greenwashing” and “conflicts of curiosity” within the sustainable loans market.

The rising recognition of offers that hyperlink borrowing prices to sustainability targets has prompted fears that banks and high-emitting firms use these to boost their repute with out setting significant local weather targets in place.

“Sustainability-linked loans ought to embody targets nearly as good as those who firms publish of their local weather transition plans”, the FCA mentioned in a letter to a handful of banks’ sustainability leaders.

The letter additionally warned of “additional measures” that might be put in place to enhance to the sector.

In response to the information, ClimateTech finance professional Laimonas Noreika, CEO, HeavyFinance mentioned: “Sustainable loans play an important function in assist companies enhance their inexperienced credentials, by introducing environmentally pleasant insurance policies round waste administration and lowering emissions.  Nonetheless, organisations benefitting from such initiatives ought to have a transparent motion plan in place with tangible targets that may be efficiently measured to make sure that the funding is getting used appropriately.

The rise of greenwashing dangers undermining the repute of the business, so holding companies to account round the usage of inexperienced funding needs to be a key consideration shifting ahead,” mentioned Noreika.

In 2022 it was estimated that $244bn of sustainability-linked loans have been issued throughout Europe, in contrast with $319bn the earlier yr, amid a broader market downturn, based on knowledge from Dealogic.

In 2020 there have been $123bn of such loans issued. Whereas the FCA doesn’t regulate the mortgage market straight, it checks that banks and administrators act with integrity, and was requested by the Treasury on the finish of final yr to assist the UK attain web zero emissions by 2050.

A difficulty recognized within the letter to bankers is that punishments or rewards that bankers add to the price of capital create little incentive for his or her shoppers to fulfill sustainability targets. It’s because penalties that are usually lower than a twentieth of a proportion level for debtors with excessive credit score rankings, and a 3rd of a proportion level for lower-rated loans  haven’t risen with rates of interest. Targets are additionally too straightforward to fulfill, based on the FCA.

Two of the most important suppliers of sustainability-linked loans within the UK, HSBC and Barclays, have every dedicated to boost as much as $1tn of sustainable finance and funding by 2030. Banks don’t usually publish the phrases of sustainability-linked loans.

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