CO₂ compensation for banking operations

On the way to Net-Zero

Photo of a photovoltaic system on a meadow. Trees and skyscrapers can be seen in the background.

Climate protection is an important aspect of Commerzbank's corporate responsibility. On the one hand, this is reflected in our core business through our Net Zero strategy and our decision not to engage in certain business activities, such as the financing of fossil fuels. On the other hand, however, it is also reflected in our efforts to continually reduce our own ecological footprint.

Commerzbank AG's banking operations in Germany have been climate-neutral since the beginning of 20151. Since 2021, this has also applied to Commerzbank AG's international locations. Remaining greenhouse gas emissions are offset by the purchase and retirement of high-quality CO₂ certificates. With respect to the compensation, the integrity of the emission reduction projects and the certificates generated from them is essential to create an appropriate CO₂ offset. We have therefore defined clear principles for the selection of projects.

To achieve the net zero target2 in banking operations by 2040, we are always working to reduce our CO₂ footprint.

The general rule at the bank is: "Reduction comes before compensation." After all, the best emissions are those that do not occur in the first place.

Offsetting our CO₂e footprint

The compensation is calculated on the basis of the direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions of Commerzbank AG, including employee commuting, which are recorded annually, verified externally and published in the GRI Report. Until 2020, this applied to the domestic locations; since 2021, the foreign branches have also been recorded. 80 % of the CO₂e emissions expected for the current year are already offset in the course of the year. The remaining amount follows after submission of the verified CO₂e emissions data in the following year.

Supported compensation projects

Delta Blue Carbon-1 | 2,397 tons offset

Delta Blue Carbon-1 | 7,603 tons offset

Cururos Wind Farm Project | 17,365 tons offset

Overview of past compensation projects

Project selection criteria

The integrity of the emission reduction projects and the certificates generated from them is essential to create an appropriate CO₂e offset. We have therefore adopted clear principles for the selection of projects. They relate to the quality of the certificates, the technologies used for CO₂ avoidance and removal, and the countries in which the projects are located.

Certificate quality

The majority of offsetting is carried out using CO₂ certificates of the Certified Emission Reductions (CER) type generated under the UN-regulated Clean Development Mechanism. CO₂ certificates generated under voluntary mechanisms are eligible for offsetting, provided projects and certificates are verified under the Verra Verified Carbon Standard, Gold Standard or Plan Vivo. This ensures that a CO₂ reduction occurs or will occur in the future and is permanent. It also ensures that an additional CO₂ reduction takes place that would not have been realised anyway. Furthermore, with these standards, proof of the actual CO₂ reduction is provided by independent third parties. When it comes to offsetting CO₂ emissions from business travel, we go one step further and use offset projects of the highest quality (Gold Standard).

Technologies for CO₂ avoidance

When selecting projects, we attach importance to a link with the bank's core business. In particular, we want to support projects in the areas of renewable energy and energy efficiency, provided they are not large-scale industrial projects. However, since Commerzbank is also concerned about preserving biodiversity, forestry projects may be included to a lesser extent.

Projects countries

Although emissions are mainly caused by industrialised nations, the consequences of climate change hit people in less developed countries first and hardest. That is why we want to support climate protection projects in developing countries in particular. Up to 20 percent of emissions can be offset in emerging countries. Projects in industrialised countries, on the other hand, are excluded. In order to establish a link to our core business here as well, preference is given to projects in countries where Commerzbank itself is active.

Our memberships and initiatives

Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi)

We have set ourselves the goal of reducing the CO₂ footprint of the bank's entire loan and investment portfolio to net zero by 2050 at the latest. To make this approach comprehensible, we have joined the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). The SBTi advocates the reduction of greenhouse gases on the basis of scientifically calculated targets. This enables companies to align their climate policies with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and effectively counteract climate change.

Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA)

In April 2021, we joined the Net-Zero Banking Alliance, the financial initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP FI) and are one of its first signatories. The goal of the voluntary commitment as a member bank of the NZBA is to reduce the CO₂e balance of the bank's entire loan and investment portfolio to net zero by 2050 at the latest.

  1. 1

    Commerzbank defines climate neutrality as follows:
    Climate neutrality is achieved as soon as an organization fully offsets its existing greenhouse gas emissions in arithmetical terms. This complete compensation is achieved through the purchase of so-called CO₂ certificates. CO₂ certificates refer to climate protection projects that can serve both CO₂ avoidance and CO₂ removal.

  2. 2

    Net Zero: State in which an organization, after all technically and scientifically possible efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, arithmetically has no more greenhouse gas emissions. Unavoidable emissions are offset exclusively by CO₂ removal measures.