AIB has a banking ‘blacklist’ for companies that won’t tackle climate change

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AIB chief executive Colin Hunt says he has a “growing blacklist” of companies he refuses to do business with because he believes they are not “serious” about reducing their carbon emissions. Mr Hunt told a conference in Dublin on Wednesday that he would “hijack” business from these companies.

“We have a growing and expanding blacklist,” Mr Hunt told the annual conference of the Irish Confederation of the Tourism Industry (Itic), which the bank sponsored. “If a company is serious about reducing its carbon emissions, we will support it. But we will not support companies that are not serious.

Mr Hunt, who was interviewed on stage on the topic of sustainability by conference host and journalist Dearbhail McDonald, said regulations requiring him to consider the carbon footprint of his customers would create a ” welcome burden” for AIB.

The bank’s chief executive said that when he goes to meet existing or potential institutional shareholders, the question of carbon targets is now an important question, whereas “three years ago it was a question to tick”.

He said companies that take climate change seriously will get an “advantage” in terms of funding in the future. He suggested companies that become known for not taking climate change seriously could face “penalties” and will find it “increasingly difficult to secure capital”. Even if they find bank financing, he suggested, they will find it more expensive.

“Excluded Activities”

When then asked to clarify Mr Hunt’s comments on an AIB ‘blacklist’, including the number of companies on the list and in which sectors, AIB replied that its chief executive was referring to its list of “excluded activities”. This list was compiled in July 2020 and can be viewed on the bank’s website.

The list of “excluded activities” does not name specific companies, but the bank says it applies to companies that have bank exposure above €300,000. The list “prohibits providing fresh money for term loans to companies, or any of their subsidiaries, engaged in” a range of activities. These include oil or coal exploration, nuclear power generation or nuclear waste transportation, gas fracking, animal fur processing, companies involved in “animal fighting for entertainment”, fish blasting, deforestation and also online pornography. The list is maintained as part of the bank’s credit risk policy.

Mr Hunt expanded on the theme of sustainability at the Itic event, suggesting that if big business does not “seriously tackle” the problem of climate change over the next three years, the chances of preventing a change catastrophic climate will be much lower.

“Time is against us,” he said. Mr Hunt also acknowledged lending for green projects was a “huge opportunity” for the bank.

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