Banks represent most of the available capital globally and since the Paris Climate Agreement the largest banks have still invested more than $4.6 trillion into the fossil fuel sector. This is equivalent to $1.8 billion for every day since the end of 2015, with no downward trend and no assessment of the carbon impact of that finance.
Given the scale of the climate challenge and the crucial role of the financial industry in facilitating the net zero carbon transition, the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials was created.
PCAF is a global partnership of financial institutions that work together to develop and implement a harmonized approach to assess and disclose the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with their loans and investments.
The harmonized accounting approach provides financial institutions with the starting point required to set science-based targets and align their portfolio with the Paris Climate Agreement. PCAF enables transparency and accountability and has developed an open-source global GHG accounting standard for financial institutions, the Global GHG Accounting and Reporting Standard for the Financial Industry.
In 2015, fourteen Dutch financial institutions created PCAF, under the leadership of ASN Bank. The initiative was launched via a Dutch Carbon Pledge calling on the negotiators at the Paris Climate Summit in 2015 to take ambitious steps while the committed financial institutions take their share in delivering an essential shift to a low carbon economy, starting with measuring and disclosing the GHG emissions of their loans and investments.
Since then, more financial institutions from the Netherlands have joined forces to develop and implement open-source methodologies to measure the GHG emissions of all asset classes within their loans and investments portfolios.
In 2018, PCAF expanded to North America. Led by Amalgamated Bank, 12 financial institutions adapted the PCAF GHG accounting methodologies to the North American context. And on 4th of March 2019, leaders of 28 banks of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) decided to assess and disclose the GHG emissions of their loans and investments by using the PCAF approach.
Due to the increasing interest of financial institutions worldwide in transparent and harmonized assessment of the GHG emissions of their loans and investments, ABN AMRO, Amalgamated Bank, ASN Bank, Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) and Triodos Bank decided to launch the global initiative. The globalization of PCAF addresses banks and investors across the world.
Addressing the urgent challenge of climate change is more pressing now than ever. To limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, all sectors of society need to decarbonize and collectively reach to net zero emissions by 2050. The financial industry can facilitate the transition in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.
As a first step in this direction, harmonized and transparent greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting becomes an imperative. Measuring and disclosing the GHG emissions associated with the lending and investment activities of financial institutions is the foundation to create transparency and accountability, and to enable financial institutions to align their portfolio with the Paris Climate Agreement.
[…] Defining effective metrics and target setting approaches for financial institutions is a critical step. The Science Based Targets Initiative is working towards a platform for financial sector targets aligned with the Paris Agreement’s goals, and collaborations such as PCAF are an important way for institutions to get started.
Chris Weber, Global Climate & Energy Lead Scientist WWF
Building on the GHG accounting activities in the Netherlands and North America, ABN AMRO, Amalgamated Bank ASN Bank, Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) and Triodos Bank decided to launch a global initiative to develop a global GHG accounting standard and increase the number of financial institutions applying this standard to over 250 institutions globally, and ultimately to make GHG accounting common practice within the financial industry.
PCAF is open to any financial institution and therefore it has developed GHG accounting methodologies that apply to any financial institution. The following asset classes are currently covered by the methodology: listed equity & corporate bonds, business loans and unlisted equity, project finance, mortgages, commercial real estate and motor vehicle loans.
As banks represent most of the available capital globally and play a crucial role in facilitating the transition, PCAF is set to collaborate with banks worldwide. In addition to banks, the globalization of PCAF also focuses on investors (i.e. pension funds, asset owners and managers). We encourage investors to join the initiative and commit to assess and disclose their GHG emissions associated with their portfolio.
PCAF recognizes that these financial actors play an important role in the financial ecosystem to drive change and transition towards a low-carbon society in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.
By starting with a global group of willing financial institutions, capitalizing on their network and engaging with other influential actors (e.g. NGOs, UN, governments, regulators, etc.), the PCAF initiative aims to grow the number of commitments to over 250 financial institutions globally by 2022, including large mainstream institutions.
[…] What I like about PCAF is its flexibility. It is open source and there is enough guidance there right now for financials to get started. It is comprehensive; it covers many different asset classes and knows how to start with imperfect data and how to work on increasing data accuracy. As of now it is not a turnkey solution, but it allows financial institutions to start on their journey measuring and lowering financed emissions.
Nicolette Bartlett, Global Director of Climate Change, CDP
PCAF is a non-profit entity, led by the Board of Directors that monitors and steers the progress towards achieving the overall objectives and ambition of PCAF. The governance and operating model of PCAF as well as the roles and responsibilities of the key stakeholder group members are stipulated in the PCAF Governance document.
The Steering Committee of PCAF was originally comprised of the institutions that initiated the globalization of the PCAF initiative: ABN AMRO, Amalgamated Bank, ASN Bank, Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), and Triodos Bank. Through the filing of a non-profit entity in January 2023, PCAF has become a non-profit entity with the Steering Committee transforming into the Board of Directors. The current Board of Directors comprises the following financial institutions:
ABN AMRO possesses a clear and bold purpose: banking for better, for generations to come. The bank’s impact on society and on the economy is tremendous, and for our contribution to be both positive and enduring we need to make the right choices. Everything that we do derives from our purpose: now and in the future.
Amalgamated Bank supports sustainable organizations, progressive causes, and social justice. We are committed to environmental and social responsibility. We're net-zero and powered by 100% renewable energy, and we have a long, proud history of providing affordable access to the banking system, supporting immigrants and affordable housing, and being a champion of workers' rights.
The Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) is an independent network of banks using finance to deliver sustainable economic, social and environmental development. Our collective goal is to change the banking system so that it is more transparent, supports economic, social and environmental sustainability, and is composed of a diverse range of banking institutions serving the real economy.
Morgan Stanley is a leading global financial services firm providing investment banking, securities, wealth management and investment management services. With offices in more than 41 countries, the Firm's employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions and individuals.
NMB Bank Limited has been operating in the Nepalese Financial market for over twenty-five years and is one of the leading commercial banks of Nepal. In September 2016, the Bank signed a Joint Venture Agreement with Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden (FMO), the Dutch development bank following which FMO became the single largest shareholder of the Bank. The alliance with FMO positions NMB Bank in becoming the market leader in managing environmental & social risks and the leading player in renewable energy and agribusiness. NMB Bank was awarded 'Bank of the Year 2017', 'Bank of the Year 2018', 'Bank of the Year 2020', and 'Bank of the Year 2021'. In the same year, for the first time in the history of Nepal, the bank was awarded the title of 'Bank of the Year 2021 Asia' by The Banker, Financial Times, London.
Nordea is a universal bank with a 200-year history of supporting and growing the Nordic economies. Our values are deeply rooted in these open, progressive, and collaborative societies. We are the largest bank in the Nordics and have a strong market position within our four business areas: Personal Banking, Business Banking, Large Corporates & Institutions, and Asset & Wealth Management. Mindful of our responsibility towards current and future generations, we have made sustainability an integrated part of our business strategy. We enable sustainable choices for our customers, engage in active ownership and drive change through our lending and investment decisions. We have committed to becoming a net zero bank by 2050, at the latest, and we are members of the Net Zero Banking Alliance, Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance, and Net Zero Asset Manager Initiative.
PCAF and CDP collaborate closely to enable transparent disclosures allowing stakeholders to better understand the climate impact of financial institutions’ portfolios. CDP’s disclosure framework integrates The Global GHG Accounting and Reporting Standard for the Financial Industry into its Climate Change Questionnaire for Financial services, which asks for disclosure of Scope 3 portfolio emissions.
PCAF partners with RMI’s Center for Climate-Aligned Finance to advance the goal of enabling low-carbon transitions for key global industries. This collaborative engagement supports the development of sector-specific data to improve implementation of the Global GHG Accounting and Reporting Standard in banks, asset managers and asset owners; facilitate the engagement of financial institutions with their customers; and support programs that advance the quality of the data systems and approaches available for financial institutions to support effective measurement and alignment.
PCAF and CIBAFI partner to enable Islamic banks to measure and disclose the greenhouse emissions financed by loans and investments. Jointly, they are developing bespoke guidance for Islamic banks to build capacities in the measurement of financed emissions.
PCAF is partnering with CRREM and GRESB in 2021 to provide investors and banks with the guidance they need to measure and report on their financed emissions from real estate. This partnership is meant to help financial institutions formulate, set, and implement forward-looking targets in relation to their financed emissions.
The Green Climate Fund is an observer to the process of developing the Global GHG Accounting and Reporting Standard for the Financial Industry. PCAF proactively informs the Green Climate Fund and involves them in the development process of the Standard, giving them the opportunity to provide input and feedback.
PCAF is partnering with GRESB and CRREM in 2021 to provide investors and banks with the guidance they need to measure and report on their financed emissions from real estate. This partnership is meant to help financial institutions formulate, set, and implement forward-looking targets in relation to their financed emissions.
PCAF and JIM collaborate to improve financed emissions estimates in developing countries. By making the JIM available to PCAF participating banks, it can be used to fill the gap in GHG emissions data for corporate lending portfolios in developing countries when real data is lacking or incomplete.
PCAF and KoSIF have partnered to support financial institutions in South Korea to measure and disclose the financed emissions of their portfolios. The PCAF-KoSIF coalition is set to build capacities on PCAF standard implementation for the measurement of financed emissions in a Korean context.
PCAF and the Mongolian Sustainable Finance Association (MSFA) partner to enable MSFA and its members to advance their ambitions and decarbonize their investments in line with the Paris Agreement. MSFA aims to introduce PCAF standards in the financing activities of all 11 commercial banks, 10 major micro-finance institutions, asset managers, insurance companies, the Development Bank of Mongolia, and the Mongolia Mortgage corporation.
PCAF has partnered with NRDC China to enable Chinese financial institutions to measure and disclose the greenhouse gas emissions financed by their loans and investments. This collaboration aims to develop region-specific guidance for Chinese financial institutions.
PCAF is collaborating with the Paris Aligned Investment Initiative (PAII) to advance the development of PCAF’s GHG accounting methodology so that it can be used to effectively underpin the Net Zero Investment Framework (NZIF) going forward. The PAII already points to PCAF as the leading GHG accounting approach to underpin the NZIF.
The UN-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance (NZAOA) is represented on the PCAF Steering Committee by Nordea Life & Pension. The NZAOA is an international group of 37 institutional investors (as of 30 April 2021) with $5.7 trillion in assets under management delivering on a bold commitment to transition their investment portfolios to net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. The Alliance was initiated by Allianz, Caisse des Dépôts, La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), Folksam Group, PensionDanmark, and SwissRe. Since then, Alecta, AMF, CalPERS, Nordea Life and Pension, Storebrand, and Zurich have joined as founding members. Aviva, AXA, CNP Assurances, David Rockefeller Fund, Fonds de Réserve pour les Retraites (FRR), Generali, the Church of England and more have joined the growing group.
PCAF and SBTi collaborate to enable financial institutions to align their lending and investment portfolios with the Paris Agreement’s mitigation goals. Financial institutions that decide to set science-based targets using the sector decarbonization approach (SDA) can use PCAF to measure their financed emissions for baselining and tracking of progress against targets.
PCAF and the Verein für Umweltmanagement und Nachhaltigkeit in Finanzinstituten e.V. (VfU) have partnered to roll out GHG portfolio accounting in the D/A/CH/Li (German-speaking) region of Europe. This collaboration supports financial institutions in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein to measure and disclose their financed emissions.