Italian bank UniCredit has pledged to halt all lending for thermal coal projects by 2023, joining a growing band of financial companies striving to improve their green credentials.
Presenting its sustainability targets a week before the unveiling of a new four-year plan, UniCredit also said it would raise its exposure to the renewable energy sector by a quarter to more than 9 billion euros ($10 billion) by 2023.
Banks with assets equivalent to a third of the global industry in September adopted new U.N.-backed “responsible banking” principles to fight climate change by shifting their loan books away from fossil fuels. UniCredit, Italy’s biggest bank by assets, was not among that group at the time but is now close to joining.
France’s BNP Paribas last week announced it would completely exit financing related to thermal coal by 2030 in the European Union and by 2040 worldwide.
UniCredit said new projects in thermal coal mining and coal-fired power generation would be off-limits, setting strict commitments to reduce reliance on coal for customers of its corporate financing business. The measures take effect immediately, but some existing financing deals will take until 2023 to run off, the bank said.
The bank’s new oil and gas (O&G) policy, meanwhile, bans the financing of new projects in Arctic oil and offshore Arctic gas, in shale oil and gas as well as related fracking, tar sands oil and deep-sea oil and gas. It also limits the financing for clients active in these areas.