China’s largest bank to screen loans for environmental risk

ICBC says it’s tICBCime to take tougher line on major polluters, citing regulatory pressures linked to air pollution and emission standards. Speaking by video link from China, Zhang Hongli said the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) was aware of the risks posed by climate change and committed to greening its finance flows.

ICBC is the world’s largest bank, based on assets totaling US$3.6 trillion. It holds significant investments in the coal, steel, cement and shipbuilding industries.

A study conducted by the bank found that policy changes concerning pollution control and tougher environmental standards would likely have significant structural impacts.

The initiative is timely, given that China still faces considerable environmental challenges. It also sets a good example for other countries, particularly those that are failing to take meaningful action, especially through their financial systems.

No matter how hard some try to deny it, global warming is already having a serious impact. Pollution of land and water are also serious and getting worse. Meanwhile there is much more dithering than doing. Various carbon trading schemes have been put forward, but at best, they have been ineffective on their own. Perhaps more work into following the lead of ICBC and ensuring that the major banks and financial institutions adopt policies that withdraw funds from harmful investments, would bring about much more success.



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