Oxfam Novib, Greenpeace Netherlands, BankTrack and Friends of the Earth Netherlands filed a complaint against ING Bank for failing to sufficiently commit and contribute to the targets set in the international climate agreement concluded in Paris in 2015.
Although ING reports about its own, direct, greenhouse gas emissions, it does not report publically about its indirect, product emissions through companies and projects it finances worldwide cause and has not yet announced to do so in the near future. Moreover, the bank has not yet set its own targets to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses resulting from its financial products. The complainants allege that ING thereby breaches disclosure, environment, and consumer interest provisions of the OECD Guidelines.
The NGOs hope that the NCP will encourage ING to fully comply with the OECD Guidelines and ask the bank to change its emission reduction targets for its loans and investments as well as its reporting practices in 2018 at the latest.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
- Chapter III
- Chapter III Paragraph 3
- Chapter III Paragraph 3 a
- Chapter III Paragraph 3 b
- Chapter III Paragraph 3 c
- Chapter VI
- Chapter VI Paragraph 1
- Chapter VI Paragraph 1 b
- Chapter VI Paragraph 1 c
- Chapter VI Paragraph 4
- Chapter VI Paragraph 6
- Chapter VI Paragraph 6 b
- Chapter VI Paragraph 6 c
- Chapter VI Paragraph 6 d
- Chapter VIII
- Chapter VIII Paragraph 4
The complaint was filed with the Dutch NCP on 8 May 2017. On 14 November 2017, the Dutch NCP published its initial assessment, accepting the case for further examination. ING’s response to the complaint filed is summarized within the assessment, in which ING states that they view of the complaint to be impracticable, unnecessary, and unfounded, as they believe there has been no violation of the Guidelines. While accepting the case, the NCP states that it is “conscious of the complexity of this subject, not least in respect to the methodology currently in development to calculate C02 emissions. However this should not prejudice a dialogue with respect of this notification, all the more so since ING indicates that climate change is an immense challenge for the world and one in which banks also have a role to play. The NCP therefore takes the view that consideration of this notification could contribute to the purpose and enhance the effectiveness of the Guidelines, in the sense that it can clarify issues relating to climate change in the financial sector in represent of due diligence, and more particularly in respect of this specific instance.” All parties have expressed their willingness to participate in mediation.
On 19 April 2019, the Dutch NCP issued its final statement in the case. The final statement concluded that the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises demand that ING Bank sets concrete climate goals for its financial services that are in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.
The parties reached agreement on several points:
— ING’s adoption of the Terra approach, with the underlying PACTA and PCAF methodologies, to measure, set targets, and steer the bank’s climate impact;
–ING’s commitment to reduce its thermal coal exposure to close to zero by 2025 and refrain from financing new coal-fired power plants;
–Collaboration between ING, Banktrack, Greenpeace, Milieudefensie, and Oxfam Novib to call upon the Dutch Government to request the International Energy Agency to develop as soon as possible two models that both provide a 66% chance to limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees.
Oxfam Novib expressed satisfaction “about this well-considered decision by the National Contact Point making it clear that banks – in order to adhere to the OECD Guidelines – must draw up concrete climate goals for their financial services that are in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. This means that banks in the Netherlands and abroad will have to work hard on this. It’s also very good to see that the OECD Contact Point takes a clear position on climate goals for the first time.”
In November 2020 the Dutch NCP issued an evaluation further to the final statement on the dialogue facilitated by the NCP. In the final statement, the NCP expressed confidence in the
continuation of the constructive dialogue between the parties after the closing of the procedure. The NCP is very pleased that during the evaluation process both parties expressed their
appreciation for the constructive and open conversations during the process in which ING’s commitment to steer its portfolio towards the goals of the Paris Agreement was further discussed. The complainants are positive about NCPs evaluation and welcome some steps made by ING on climate change. They nevertheless have several concerns about lack of progress and commitment by ING to lead.