Sim Tshabalala Reaffirms Standard Bank’s Climate Policy Amidst Growing Scrutiny

Sim Tshabalala, the CEO of Standard Bank, Africa’s largest lender by assets, underlined the company’s commitment to climate policy and sustainable finance goals. This follows the bank’s outstanding 2023 financial performance, which saw headline earnings exceed $2.3 billion.

The banking behemoth’s outstanding financial success has been overshadowed by criticism from climate change activists over its funding of fossil energy. Despite this scrutiny, Tshabalala remains steadfast in Standard Bank’s strategy, arguing for what he calls a “Just Transition” for African states.

“We support a Just Transition that aims to achieve environmental sustainability while creating decent work opportunities and promoting social inclusion,” Tshabalala said at the conference. “By 2030, Standard Bank aims for net-zero carbon emissions from its newly built facilities, and by 2040, we plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions from existing operations.”

Standard Bank’s sustainable financing portfolio has emerged as one of its most rapidly developing segments. The institution stated that in 2023 alone, it raised more than R50 billion ($2.66 billion) for corporate clients dedicated to sustainable activities.

Furthermore, it provided substantial financial assistance to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to help them shift to economical and dependable renewable energy sources.

Furthermore, Standard Bank has actively participated in the government’s Energy Bounce-Back Loan Scheme, with their solar loan project LookSee seeing a 26% increase in 2023, reaching about R3 billion ($160 million).

Tshabalala highlighted his pleasure with the bank’s overall performance, citing a “differentiated franchise” and momentum in its many business divisions. He emphasized the enormous contributions of the African areas and offshore franchises.

Tshabalala leads Standard Bank Group, which operates in 20 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa. The institution’s recent annual report showed a 27% increase in headline earnings and a 20% increase in total net income, owing to strong growth in net interest income and non-interest revenue.

Despite criticism, Standard Bank remains committed to reconciling financial success and environmental responsibility, creating a path to a sustainable future while navigating the difficulties of modern finance.

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