The big goal is Net Zero

Greenhouse gas emissions have to be reduced. Only then global warming can be diminished. The big goal is Net Zero CO2 emissions. Also for Commerzbank.

Beate Schlosser
Hand with animations in connection with Net Zero
The “Net Zero” cycle. Copyright: AdobeStock

International initiatives and alliances such as the United Nations Environment Programme's Net Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA) and the Science-based Targets Initiative (SBTi) are essential to consistently steer financial flows towards the Paris climate targets. Since Commerzbank joined the SBTi in 2020 and was one of the first signatories to the NZBA in 2021, the Bank has achieved a lot. We have four questions for Bettina Storck, Head of Group Sustainability Management.

Net Zero is the core element of Commerzbank's sustainability strategy. Our goal is to reduce the CO2 emissions of our entire credit and investment portfolio to net zero by 2050. How are we going to achieve this?

Bettina Storck: We can only achieve net zero if we work together as a global community. International organizations such as the Net Zero Banking Alliance promote these transnational cooperations. They also promote internationally comparable standards, which we definitively need for a successful sustainability transformation.

As a member of the Net Zero Banking Alliance, we have made a commitment to reduce the carbon footprint of our entire credit and investment portfolio to net zero by 2050 at the latest. To achieve this, we have developed science-based reduction targets for the most carbon-intensive sectors. Commerzbank is the first German bank with SBTi-validated emission reduction targets. The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has validated the Bank’s near-term emissions reduction targets for 2030. This means that we are consistently steering our portfolios towards our net-zero target - in line with the 1.5-degree pathway.

What does this mean for your customers?

We have to fulfill our responsibility towards our clients. Only if we support them in their sustainable behaviour we will make progress towards our net zero goal. For our corporate clients, it is primarily about how they can effectively transform their business models. The financing of renewable energies plays a key role in this and is one of our core competencies. In case of opting for a green mortgage our private customers are rewarded with an interest rate discount. In the investment area, they can choose from a range of options depending on their financial scope: from monthly savings plans to sustainable asset management.

What is the connection to your CO2-emissions?

The lower the CO2 emissions associated with our customers' activities, the lower the impact of the financed emissions on our portfolios. Through this way, we support our customers in their transformation and also come one step closer to our Net Zero target. In the energy generation portfolio, CO2 intensity is set to fall significantly by 74% by 2030 from the base year 2021. In private construction financing, we want to reduce this by 57 percent - to name just two examples. Overall, 85% of the emissions we currently finance is already subject to SBTi-validated reduction targets.

Why are standards so crucial when it comes to CO2 reduction?

It‘s about transparency and trust. For our stakeholders, comparability is an important signal of how Commerzbank is progressing in reducing its CO2 emissions. This can only be achieved through industry-wide recognized standards - such as those of the Science-based Targets Initiative. International associations take on a regulatory function here in order to provide important impetus and counteract critical issues such as greenwashing. We need this to effectively promote sustainability not only in our company, but in the entire financial sector. And that is exactly what we are working on at Commerzbank.