Global banks representing $23 billion in steel loans sign onto Sustainable STEEL Principles
Six leading banks — Citi, Crédit Agricole CIB, ING, Societe Generale, Standard Chartered, and UniCredit — will measure and disclose their steel-related loan emissions via the Sustainable STEEL Principles (SSP), the first climate-aligned finance agreement for the steel industry.
New York – September 23, 2022
Under RMI’s leadership, six top lenders to the global steel sector — Citi, Crédit Agricole CIB, ING, Societe Generale, Standard Chartered and UniCredit — today announced the signing of the Sustainable STEEL Principles (SSP), the first Climate-Aligned Finance (CAF) agreement for lenders to the steel industry.
The SSP are the turn-key solution for measuring and disclosing the 1.5°C alignment of steel lending portfolios. Designed to support the practical achievement of net-zero emissions in the steel industry, they also provide the tools necessary for client engagement and advocacy.
The Principles were carefully designed over the course of a year by a working group facilitated by RMI, led by ING and co-led by Societe Generale, with participation from Citi, Standard Chartered and UniCredit. The resulting framework positions lenders to facilitate the net-zero transition of the steel industry — the largest source of industrial emissions globally. Signatories to the SSP represent a combined bank loan portfolio of approximately $23 billion in lending commitments to the steel sector, for a market share of over 11% of total private sector steel lending, according to RMI research.
The SSP provides a methodology for banks to measure and report the emissions associated with their loan portfolios compared to net-zero emissions pathways. In doing so, the framework informs banks of how emissions-intensive their steel loans are relative to the net-zero pathway needed to stay within our planet’s remaining carbon budget — a metric known as climate alignment.
Steel is used in everything from cars and fridges to buildings and planes. However, because of the sector’s reliance on coal, it contributes 7% of CO2 emissions globally. With demand for steel projected to grow 30% by 2050, emissions are set to rise significantly if we continue with business-as-usual.
This innovative, voluntary agreement is based on the model of the groundbreaking Poseidon Principles in shipping. Launched in 2019, The Poseidon Principles now include 28 banks representing over 50% of global shipping finance. Following a similar logic, the SSP enable lenders to signal their expectations for emissions reductions across hard-to-abate industries and to engage their clients to identify the financings available to support their decarbonization. Similar frameworks for aviation and aluminum are also in development.
Signatories to the Sustainable STEEL Principles commit to the following five principles:
- Standardized assessment – A methodology to measure portfolio emissions
- Transparent reporting – A framework to disclose progress annually
- Enactment – Instructions to obtain credible, high-quality data
- Engagement – Signatories are encouraged to engage clients on net-zero transition plans, and available financial products
- Leadership – Signatories are encouraged to utilize the framework for advocacy, in the interest of the decarbonization of the steel industry
For banks with net-zero commitments, the SSP provide ready-made implementation guidance to help achieve them. This includes a steel-specific measurement and disclosure framework for banks to help set targets and assess their own climate progress, in accordance with guidance from the Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA).
RMI’s Center for Climate-Aligned Finance convened banks to create this first-of-its-kind framework to help solve the sector’s funding needs. Steel finance could soon emulate trends in shipping, where signatories to the Poseidon Principles are closing over a billion dollars of Poseidon-based sustainability-linked loans annually.
The SSP was established by leading lenders to the steel sector and is ready for adoption by banks around the world. The NZBA steel sector working group, comprising over 16 financial institutions, plans to consider the SSP methodology as one avenue for achieving a bank’s NZBA commitment for the steel sector.
Metals and mining teams from the working group banks, in consultation with industry, asset managers and RMI, developed this framework over more than a year of intensive collaboration. Over 80 stakeholders reviewed and informed the Principles, including representatives from the financial sector, industry leaders and climate NGOs.
The design was informed by a close collaboration with the Net-Zero Steel Initiative, a project of the Mission Possible Partnership, as well as the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative. RMI participated on the SBTi Expert Advisory Group on steel and the Climate Bonds Initiative Technical Working Group for steel in an effort to align standards wherever possible. The SSP Association, the SSP’s governing body, plans to continue collaboration with several organizations, and will explore signing an MOU with ResponsibleSteel in the near future.
Law firm Allen & Overy provided legal counsel and CRU provided cutting-edge steel sector data. SSP’s Secretariat is staffed by RMI’s Center for Climate-Aligned Finance and led by Lucy Kessler and Sam Kooijmans. Additional RMI staff that contributed to the design of the Sustainable STEEL Principles include James Mitchell, Lachlan Wright, Estefania Marchan, Tamara George, and Shravan Bhat.
The SSP counts banking signatories from North America and Europe, with steel clients all over the world. Other banks committed to decarbonizing the steel sector are encouraged to join. To learn more, visit steelprinciples.org or email Lkessler@rmi.org.
Media Inquiries, please contact:
Citi: Stephanie Hyon, email@example.com, 212-816-3397
Credit Agricole: Cornelia Schnepf/ Finelk – firstname.lastname@example.org,+44 7387 108 998
ING: Daan Wentholt, email@example.com, +31621325084
Standard Chartered: Mark Roberts, firstname.lastname@example.org, +44(0)7788654564
Societe Generale: Sophie Dobrzensky, email@example.com, 33(0) 1 57 29 19 11
Quotes from the Founding Signatories
William Husband, Global Head of Metals and Mining, Corporate Banking at Citi: “Given the high level of greenhouse gas emissions emitted by the global steel sector, decarbonising the steel production process is among the biggest challenges the industry faces today. As a leading lender and arranger of capital to the steel sector, Citi is proud to join this working group to support our collective journeys to net-zero and to facilitate the financing of our steel clients’ decarbonization efforts.”
Jérôme Bernard, Global Head of Metals and Mining, Crédit Agricole CIB: “Credit Agricole CIB is a very active bank in the steel sector, one that is crucial to the economy. We are also totally committed to our Net Zero policies. The Sustainable Steel Principles are a fundamental tool to deliver the best of both in the most efficient way. They will enable our clients in the steel sector to standardize their carbon emissions reporting and will enable the bank to monitor the evolution of the carbon emissions of its steel portfolio. This will allow us to continue to serve the steel sector during its decarbonization journey, in the manner we have been consistently providing.”
Arnout van Heukelem, Global Head of Metals, Mining & Fertilizers, ING: “We are proud to have led this multi-stakeholder effort to provide the first climate aligned finance agreement for the steel sector. The decarbonization of this industry will require very significant investments over the next thirty years. Banks will have a large role to play in providing part of the funding required to realize this. The SSP is a methodology that allows banks to not only disclose their climate alignment, but also to benchmark their clients and use this data to engage with them to further stimulate decarbonization.”
Lenaig Trenaux, Global Head Mining, Metals & Industries, Societe Generale: “As a founding member of the UNEP-FI Net Zero Banking Alliance, Societe Generale is committed to work with its clients and partners across sectors to achieve net-zero no later than 2050. By launching the Sustainable STEEL Principles, our ambition is to further support our clients as they innovate and invest for a low carbon future in the steel sector.”
Richard Horrocks-Taylor, Global Head, Metals & Mining, Standard Chartered: “We are committed to sustainable social and economic development through our business, operations and communities. We are proud to work with RMI as a founding member of the SSP Working Group, to lead the way in supporting the steel industry’s decarbonisation journey.”
Frank Biburger, Global Head of Producer Finance, Natural Resources, UniCredit: “UniCredit is strongly committed to supporting its clients in achieving their ESG targets as a core part of our efforts to drive a just and fair transition to a low carbon and more inclusive world economy. With steel production representing the largest source of industrial carbon emissions globally, the Sustainable STEEL Principles are a key step in the journey towards Net-Zero. As a founding signatory, we look forward to deepening our dialogue with clients and industry peers to promote a greener future.”
Nicola Davidson, Vice President, Sustainability and Corporate Communications, ArcelorMittal, “ArcelorMittal has a net zero by 2050 target. Efforts such as the Sustainable STEEL Principles are important to enable steelmakers and their financing partners to make long-term planning and investment decisions to achieve net-zero targets such as these.”
Lucy Kessler, Steel Lead, Center for Climate-Aligned Finance at RMI, “This groundbreaking standard was carefully designed by leading lenders to the steel industry and has been thoroughly vetted by finance, industry and civil society. By signing onto this agreement, lenders can accurately measure their steel-related emissions and have the transition-relevant data needed to engage their clients. In doing so together, banks can signal their expectations, and demonstrate collective impact.”
David Trafford, CEO, CRU Group “CRU is delighted to be the third-party provider of the steel industry’s emissions data for the Sustainable STEEL Principles Association. This is a natural role for us as this is how we see that CRU’s standardised, transparent, and broad-reaching data can add tremendous value to sustainability strategies and decision-making for participating banks.”
Peter Levi, Industry Lead, Energy Technology Policy Division, IEA: “The global average direct CO2 intensity of steel production needs to fall by more than 30% between 2020 and 2030 to align with the International Energy Agency’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario (NZE). It is encouraging to see lenders to the steel industry consider the NZE trajectory under the Sustainable STEEL Principles – the Principles and Scenario should serve as drivers for industry players to assess and disclose their climate alignment.”
Annie Heaton, CEO, ResponsibleSteel: “The Sustainable STEEL Principles fill a missing link in the efforts to decarbonize the steel industry, by providing a platform for lenders to set clear expectations of their clients and accelerate the flow of funds to near-zero GHG steel production. ResponsibleSteel and the Sustainable STEEL Principles intend to work together to build synergies and coordination on steel emissions reporting standards and activities going forward.”
Remco Fischer, Climate Lead, United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative: “For members of the Net-Zero Banking Alliance, sector-specific pathways, metrics and methodologies are crucial not only for setting but also, importantly, for implementing credible decarbonisation targets. The steel-specific methodology in the Sustainable STEEL Principles offers banks a valuable and NZBA-aligned framework for effective net-zero client engagement in the steel sector.”
Richard Fruehauf, Senior Vice President, Chief Strategy & Sustainability Officer, U. S. Steel, “The Sustainable STEEL Principles promote improved transparency in the financial sector while giving companies the ability to enhance their commitments to the environment. Collaborating with likeminded companies is essential to make meaningful progress on our decarbonization journey and execute our Best for All® strategy to get to a more sustainable future faster.”
Clare Broadbent, Head of Sustainability, worldsteel: “A key focus for the steel industry is to significantly reduce our carbon emissions. We cannot achieve this alone. The Sustainable STEEL Principles are a very welcome tool to enable lenders to more effectively support their clients in decarbonizing the emissions from their steel production processes.”
About the Center
The Center for Climate-Aligned Finance was established by RMI to help the financial sector transition the global economy toward a zero-carbon, 1.5°C future. With deep partnerships in finance, industry, government, and civil society, the Center works to develop decarbonization agreements within high-emitting sectors, build global frameworks for climate alignment, and support financial institutions in decarbonizing their lending and investing portfolios. Launched in 2020, the Center builds on RMI’s nearly 40 years of experience developing market-based solutions to accelerate the energy transition.
RMI is an independent nonprofit founded in 1982 that transforms global energy systems through market-driven solutions to align with a 1.5°C future and secure a clean, prosperous, zero-carbon future for all. We work in the world’s most critical geographies and engage businesses, policymakers, communities, and NGOs to identify and scale energy system interventions that will cut greenhouse gas emissions at least 50 percent by 2030. RMI has offices in Basalt and Boulder, Colorado; New York City; Oakland, California; Washington, D.C.; and Beijing. More information on RMI can be found at www.rmi.org or follow us on Twitter @RockyMtnInst.
Citi is a preeminent banking partner for institutions with cross-border needs, a global leader in wealth management and a valued personal bank in its home market of the United States. Citi does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions, providing corporations, governments, investors, institutions and individuals with a broad range of financial products and services. Additional information may be found at www.citigroup.com | Twitter: @Citi | YouTube: www.youtube.com/citi | Blog: http://blog.citigroup.com | Facebook: www.facebook.com/citi | LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/citi
About Crédit Agricole CIB
Crédit Agricole CIB is the corporate and investment banking arm of Credit Agricole Group, the 10th largest banking group worldwide in terms of balance sheet size (The Banker, July 2022). More than 8,900 employees across Europe, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa support the Bank’s clients, meeting their financial needs throughout the world. Crédit Agricole CIB offers its large corporate and institutional clients a range of products and services in capital markets activities, investment banking, structured finance, commercial banking and international trade. The Bank is a pioneer in the area of climate finance, and is currently a market leader in this segment with a complete offer for all its clients.
For more information, please visit www.ca-cib.com
ING is a global financial institution with a strong European base, offering banking services through its operating company ING Bank. The purpose of ING Bank is empowering people to stay a step ahead in life and in business. ING Bank’s more than 57,000 employees offer retail and wholesale banking services to customers in over 40 countries. ING Group shares are listed on the exchanges of Amsterdam (INGA NA, INGA.AS), Brussels and on the New York Stock Exchange (ADRs: ING US, ING.N). Sustainability is an integral part of ING’s strategy, evidenced by ING’s leading position in sector benchmarks. ING’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) rating by MSCI was affirmed ‘AA’ in December 2021. As of September 2021, Sustainalytics considers ING’s management of ESG material risk to be ‘strong’, and in June 2022 ING received an ESG rating of ‘strong’ from S&P Global Ratings. ING Group shares are also included in major sustainability and ESG index products of leading providers STOXX, Morningstar and FTSE Russell.
About Societe Generale
Societe Generale is one of the leading European financial services groups. Based on a diversified and integrated banking model, the Group combines financial strength and proven expertise in innovation with a strategy of sustainable growth. Committed to the positive transformations of the world’s societies and economies, Societe Generale and its teams seek to build, day after day, together with its clients, a better and sustainable future through responsible and innovative financial solutions. Active in the real economy for over 150 years, with a solid position in Europe and connected to the rest of the world, Societe Generale has over 117,000 members of staff in 66 countries and supports on a daily basis 25 million individual clients, businesses and institutional investors around the world by offering a wide range of advisory services and tailored financial solutions. The Group is built on three complementary core businesses – French Retail Banking; International Retail Banking, Insurance and Financial Services, and Global Banking and Investor Solutions.
About Standard Chartered
Standard Chartered is a leading international banking group, with a presence in 59 of the world’s most dynamic markets, and serving clients in a further 85. Our purpose is to drive commerce and prosperity through the bank’s unique diversity, and our heritage and values are expressed in our brand promise, “Here for good.” Standard Chartered PLC is listed on the London and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges. For more stories and expert opinions please visit Insights at sc.com. Follow Standard Chartered on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.
UniCredit is a pan-European Commercial Bank with a unique service offering in Italy, Germany, Central and Eastern Europe. Our purpose is to empower communities to progress, delivering the best-in-class for all stakeholders, unlocking the potential of our clients and our people across Europe. We serve over 15 million customers worldwide. They are at the heart of what we do in all our markets. UniCredit is organized in four core regions and two product factories, Corporate and Individual Solutions. This allows us to be close to our clients and use the scale of the entire Group for developing and offering the best products across all our markets. Digitalisation and our commitment to ESG principles are key enablers for our service. They help us deliver excellence to our stakeholders and create a sustainable future for our clients, our communities and our people. www.unicreditgroup.eu