Are Financial Institutions Overly Reliant on Carbon Offsetting?

With the proliferation of APIs and integrations and the move from bricks-and-mortar banking to digital banking, it’s tempting to think that finance today has a relatively light carbon footprint. But the emissions associated with banking and finance actually go deeper. The main cause of emissions in the financial services industry is not the day-to-day physical activities but rather emissions related to the capital (loans, investments, underwritings) that the financial industry provides. The Carbon Disclosure Project estimates that these financed emissions are, on average, 700 times greater than Scope-1 and Scope-2 emissions generated from activities such as heating, cooling and powering office buildings. To offset this, many financial institutions have turned to carbon offsetting initiatives; however, this is based on a concept of reducing and not eliminating emissions. To truly make an impact, financial institutions will need to do more than the quick and easy solution and look for other options that have a greater impact.