Together towards 1.5 degrees Celsius – Launch of the Green Finance Alliance: Nine financial companies commit to climate goals

Banks, insurance companies, pension funds and corporate provision funds from Austria voluntarily align their core business with the Paris climate goals and become global pioneers for climate protection.

The first nine members of Austria's first Green Finance Alliance are pioneers: Allianz Elementar Versicherungs-AG, BKS Bank AG, fair-finance Vorsorgekasse AG, HYPO Oberösterreich, Raiffeisenbank Gunskirchen eGen, UniCredit Bank Austria AG, UNIQA Insurance Group AG, VBV Pensionskasse AG and VBV Vorsorgekasse AG followed the call of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Action and successfully applied for membership in the Green Finance Alliance. They reaffirmed their shared commitment to green finance and to achieving the Paris climate goals at the Green Finance Alliance launch-event in the premises of the former Vienna Stock Exchange.

"The financial sector is an essential lever for more climate protection, for supporting a green economic recovery and for strengthening a climate-friendly economy. With the combined financial power of the nine financial companies committed to the targets of the Green Finance Alliance, we have gained important allies – in the fight against the climate crisis and for ending the dependency on fossil fuels. Larger, international financial companies and smaller, regionally focused ones are both involved. With the Green Finance Alliance, we are now pursuing an exemplary path with concrete and regularly reviewed targets. Thanks to everyone involved for their great commitment – with joint forces we can strengthen climate protection in Austria," says Climate Action Minister Leonore Gewessler.

Accelerating the financial market’s transition towards sustainability

In accordance with the long-term EU climate target, the Green Finance Alliance aims at transitioning the core business of financial market participants towards a 1.5 degrees Celsius-aligned pathway. Participation in the Green Finance Alliance offers members the opportunity to lead the way and work together to transform the financial market in a climate-friendly way – by steering capital flows in a more sustainable direction.

The Green Finance Alliance is one of the first state-run initiatives worldwide, combining a voluntary pledge of financial companies to the Paris Agreement with the obligation to fulfill a set of binding, science-based criteria targeted at their core business. The criteria catalogue covers the lending and investment portfolios as well as underwriting portfolios of the members and defines e.g. criteria for phasing-out of fossil fuels, for expanding green activities and for annually disclosing climate-related information.

Climate-friendly alignment of the entire company

In addition to their commitment to align their core business with the Paris climate goals, there is also a requirement for Green Finance Alliance members to engage in environmentally friendly practices within the company. Measures within the internal environmental management involve integrating climate-relevant aspects into operational areas and processes with corresponding criteria (e.g. climate-friendly travel policy, purchase of green electricity, sustainable procurement guidelines).

Reaching climate targets faster together

The experts of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Action, the Environment Agency Austria and the Advisory Council accompany members of the Green Finance Alliance on their path to climate neutrality. The members are provided with in-depth knowledge to support the implementation of the binding criteria and the development of company-specific solutions. New regulatory sustainable finance requirements on EU level are driving and shaping sustainability in the financial industry. The membership in the Green Finance Alliance supports financial companies’ to tackle these challenges. By taking responsibility for a sustainable future in line with scientific knowledge, Green Finance Alliance Members become climate pioneers. The Green Finance Alliance aims both at financial companies taking an innovative role in sustainable and climate-friendly business activities as well as at financial companies that do not yet have this focus but genuinely want to work towards achieving these goals.

About the Green Finance Alliance 

By establishing the Green Finance Alliance, the Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Action (BMK) created an alliance of financial companies who are committed to align their core business as well as their internal environmental management with the 1.5 degrees Celsius target of the Paris Agreement. Green Finance Alliance Members show the compatibility of climate protection and a successful business model. In this way, the members of the Green Finance Alliance contribute towards securing a future worth living for our children and future generations to come. It also helps companies to align their own core business with climate-resilient activities.  The intensive exchange with financial companies, NGOs and other stakeholders as well as the development of the criteria catalogue formed the main elements in the initiative’s preparatory work in 2021. The first application period ran from September 2021 to January 2022.