Societe Generale: Founding signatory of the Sustainable Steel Principles

23/09/2022

Societe Generale, together with five other leading banks — Citi, Crédit Agricole CIB, ING, 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.

In partnership with RMI, Societe Generale, along with six top lenders to the global steel sector —Citi, Crédit Agricole CIB, ING, Standard Chartered and UniCredit —announced today 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, 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).

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.

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
 

“ 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. ”

Lenaig Trenaux
Global Head Mining, Metals & Industries, Societe Generale