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Climate Action 04 Dec 2020

Antoni Ballabriga: "It is essential to accompany clients with sustainable financial solutions and advice"

BBVA Global Head of Responsible Business Antoni Ballabriga, speaking at a webinar on decarbonization and the financial sector, pointed at the sustainable mobilization of the economy as a whole as the most pressing challenge facing the financial sector, and noted that, in this effort, “it is essential to accompany clients with sustainable financial solutions and advice.”

Ballabriga also stressed that one of the critical issues to achieve this shift towards a decarbonized economy is driving and supporting customer commitment. By way of example he cited the new feature rolled out within the One View solution, which allows BBVA business customers to get an estimate of their carbon footprint and compare it against that of other players in the same sector, and provides them with recommendations to reduce it.

In the opinion of the global head of Responsible Business at BBVA, another challenge for the financial industry is the need to access businesses’ non-financial information. He also underlined the knowledge challenge financial players are facing, and recalled BBVA’s pioneering initiative on mandatory sustainable training, which has over 125,000 employees have already completed. Lastly, Ballabriga underscored that the Group has singled out sustainability as one of its six strategic priorities.

Ballabriga went over some of the milestones that define BBVA’s sustainability pledge, such as the signing of the Katowice Commitment – a joint methodology to align credit portfolios with the targets of the Paris Agreement – or the release of its first report on the risks and opportunities of climate change, in accordance with the standard issued by the Task Force Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD). In addition, BBVA publicly announced in 2018 its Pledge 2025 to mobilize €100 billion in sustainable financing by 2025. As of June 2020, the bank had already crossed the €40 billion threshold.

During the event, Margarita Delgado, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Spain urged entities to consider environmental risks in their operations; while Teresa Ribera, Fourth Vice-President and Minister for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, recognized that it will be carbon pricing that will tell, increasingly, “the difference between what is feasible and what is not” from a financial point of view.

The minister also underscored the importance of the context of economic recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is a particularly adequate time to raise these questions. We are asking ourselves what type of recovery we want and we cannot afford going back to a normality that just wasn’t working, that surpassed environmental limits,” she said. In her opinion, “we are rebooting the economy, asking ourselves how we can do it in a caring and inclusive way, but also to help future generations, thinking that we there must be a limit to the amount of problems we pass down to them.” In this sustainable transition, the Minister recognized the pending need to build a bridge between today and tomorrow. “This requires an effort, a contribution from the financial sector,” she concluded.

The event, entitled ‘Strategies of the financial sector to accelerate decarbonization‘, was co-sponsored by the Bank of Spain, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation and the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, to promote the involvement of the Spanish financial sector in accelerating the transition towards a carbon neutral economy, in a context of economic recovery after the COVID-19 health crisis.

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