03-04-2024 11:16

Our sustainability target: “We’re showing strong progress”

In 2019 Nordea launched an ambitious sustainability strategy with clear mid-term objectives for 2030. Are we on track or what additional measures do we need take to make it happen? We asked Anja Hannerz, Head of Group Sustainability.
Head of Group Sustainability Anja Lidgren Hannerz
Anja Hannerz, Head of Group Sustainability.

In 2019 we set an ambitious sustainability strategy. What progress has Nordea made so far towards building a better tomorrow?

“Until now, climate action and the green transition have been the main topics. Sustainability in Nordea is about enabling customers to reduce their emissions as well as reducing our own carbon footprint. Since 2019 we have reduced financed emissions in the lending portfolio by 29% and carbon emissions from our internal operations by 51%."

“Going forward, we will have an even more holistic perspective on our sustainability work. Mitigating climate change must go hand in hand with mitigating adverse impacts on nature and people. For instance, electric vehicles are good for reducing emissions. However, the extraction of the minerals needed for batteries can have negative effects on nature, and working conditions in some parts of the world have been problematic. We will look at all aspects of the value chain. The actions we take can have far-reaching effects on ecosystems and local communities, including working conditions, children's rights and women's rights.”

Sustainability at Nordea

Nordea has made a commitment to become a bank with net zero emissions by 2050. To reach this goal, we have set a mid-term objective to reduce carbon emissions across our investment and lending portfolios by 40-50% by 2030 and also to reduce our carbon emissions in our internal operations by more than 50%.

Read more about our targets

But does it really matter what banks do? Doesn’t our carbon footprint mainly consist of so-called indirect emissions from our customers?

“It does matter. It’s true that 99.9% of Nordea’s emissions are financed emissions, that is, emissions from our customers and portfolio companies. However, banks play a unique role in terms of what and who we choose to finance – and how we act as responsible owners of the companies we invest in. In other words, with ambitious targets and a clear strategy, financial institutions can be a link between sectors and allocate capital in a way that drives structural change without being limited by country borders. Our strategy focuses on supporting our customers in their sustainable transition. The new baseline will be a fair transition that considers people as well as the planet.

Don’t most banks today have the same net-zero ambition as Nordea? 

“Most banks have set a net-zero commitment for 2050, but Nordea is one of few European banks that has set a portfolio-wide 2030 objective to reduce emissions across both lending and investment activities in line with our 2050 commitment. We’re showing strong progress, notably the absolute emissions from the lending portfolio are down by as much as 29% compared with 2019, making us more than halfway towards our 2030 objective to reduce emissions by 40-50%. Reaching our mid-term goal will be a strong proof point of how we work as a bank together with our customers. Thanks to Nordea’s size, strong capital position and Nordic presence we really have the potential to make an impact in so many different areas. We can make a positive impact on society and change the future for the better.”

Our strategy focuses on supporting our customers in their sustainable transition. The new baseline will be a fair transition that considers people as well as the planet.

How do we deliver on the strategy in the short and long term?

“Like today, our focus in 2030 will be to support and empower our customers. Not only in terms of opportunities and challenges, for instance transitioning to renewables, but also in terms of the sustainability-related regulations to be implemented in the coming years. In the medium term, we see regulatory and technology developments as the two most significant areas of change in our business environment. Companies transitioning to sustainable business models by for instance investing in green technology production facilities will be able to stay competitive in the long term.”

How about our personal customers? Do they still have an appetite for sustainability-linked investments and loans or has the general financial recession changed that trend?

“Data show that 43% of our personal customers have a sustainability preference when it comes to their savings. Our role is to help them make sustainable choices and let their money work for a better future in a balanced and controlled way. This goes beyond traditional savings advice; it’s also about improving their financial strength by reducing energy costs through investing in more efficient energy sources for their homes. And on a collective scale, it’s about where to invest pension savings to contribute positively to the sustainable transition.”

What will the next steps be? 

“The natural first step to implement our sustainability strategy is to establish a solid foundation for collecting, analysing, measuring and reporting on data related to environmental, social and governance (ESG) activities. We have also implemented a sustainability roadmap to follow up annually on the strategy implementation across the Group. There is still work to be done to refine and develop our products and services and to help our customers make sustainable choices, but I’m proud to see that we have now integrated sustainability across the entire bank. This makes us well equipped for the future.

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