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In recent years, many banks have moved beyond a sole focus on their core business and have increasingly included community, national and global activism in their overall strategy. For example: in late 2019, a group of 130 banks around the world—institutions with more than $47 trillion in assets, or a third of the global industry—agreed to new principles that require lenders to align their strategies with the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change and, among other goals, to set targets to increase “positive impacts” on the environment.
Or consider Christine Lagarde, the President of the European Central Bank, who is pushing for climate change to be a mission- critical priority of the central bank. “My personal view,” she has said, “is that any institution has to actually have climate change risk and protection of the environment at the core of their understanding of their mission.”
These are striking developments for the banking industry. What’s going on?