Standard Chartered CEO Bill Winters demanded clear rules on climate financing at a Davos meeting as potential lenders are “terrified of being accused of greenwashing”.
Winters agreed with panellists that there needed to be much more action on financing climate change initiatives.
However, he warned there needed to be standards on “what’s a good project and what’s a bad project” otherwise lenders would be accused of greenwashing “even if we know we’re doing the right thing”.
In particular Winters highlighted a proper carbon pricing system. Carbon pricing is “all over the price” he said.
“The decision framework for every company including banks…would be fundamentally different if we were charged the cost of what we were actually doing to the environment.”
Winters discussed the pressures he faced from Standard Chartered investors to perform on an environmental front.
“I get lots of feedback from investors” on environmental issues, he said. “If we don’t deliver, I won’t be here next year.”
At its last annual general meeting Standard Chartered faced a shareholder-proposed resolution on climate change, the only bank in the UK to face such a proposal.
The resolution points to greenwashing – the act of inflating ones climate-beneficial practices – in its net zero by 2050 target, which has allowed the banking giant to provide nearly $40bn (£30.7bn) in finance to fossil fuel companies and developments in the six years between the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015 and the end of 2021.
Winters was in the news earlier in the week after playing down rumours that Standard Chartered was a takeover target.
“This is not something we’ve either engaged with, or been interested in,” Winters said to Bloomberg TV. “The thing with Standard Chartered is we are doing very well all by ourselves. Everything is on track for us.”
Earlier in the month it was reported that First Abu Dhabi Bank had been weighing up a takeover bid for the bank, although it pulled out at a fairly early stage.