Santander UK plc is a British bank owned by the Spanish Santander Group. It is a leading personal finances services provider with 25.4 million customers. Worldwide, the Santander Group has 133 million customers (2017 Annual Report).
The General Sustainability Policy published in February 2018 remarks that “the world and society today, constantly evolving and changing, present risks and opportunities.” As such, “Santander Group understands that sustainability is based on creating value for all stakeholders”.
Due to the challenge posed by climate change, Santander, in its Climate Change and Environmental Management Policy, explicitly mentions a wide range of financial activities that the bank has been performing, demonstrating its commitment to sustainability and ability to help economic growth while respecting the environment:
- Financing renewable energy.
- Financing of energy efficiency initiatives.
- Specific products and services for agriculture and livestock.
- Financing electrical, hybrid and low-emission vehicles.
- Financing infrastructure related to integral water cycle management and integral waste management.
- Products and services related to sustainable building.
- Participation in carbon markets.
- Development of specific insurance for the agricultural and livestock sectors to cover adverse weather and other natural risks.
- Funds for responsible investment.
Since 2004 Santander has been funding a wide variety of renewable projects. In January 2018 for example, “a leading independent provider of power storage, energy security and energy flexibility services has secured £28.5 million in funding from Santander Corporate & Commercial.Santander has started offering of a range of ‘green products’. For instance, in 2017 Santander issued its first green bond ( €136 million) in Poland, covering energy efficiency, renewable energy and water and waste management.
Most recently Santander has pledged to stop financing coal power plants, which is a step in the right direction towards limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. However, this new resolution does not include plans to stop financing their clients operating in the coal industry, which is representative of the lack of ambition of its management. Despite claiming that they are acting sustainably and taking environmental factors into account, Santander has helped to fund a number of fossil fuel infrastructure projects in the last couple years, including:
If you’ve switched from Santander, see the draft below for an example of an email to send to their customer services department. Don’t forget to share your switch on social media!
Dear Mr Bostock,
I have been a Santander customer for …. years now. [If you want you can include specific services such as current account, savings, mortgage.]
However, I am switching banks because of your continued investment in fossil fuel projects such as the Annova LNG Terminal, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project and the Punta Catalina-Hatillo coal power plant. I recognise that Santander has committed itself to reducing funding to coal, but I think that this is not enough.
I would be delighted to return once you align your lending practices with the Paris Agreement targets.
[You can also mention any other lending or projects that you don’t agree with.]