UBS tightens lending criteria to coal, Arctic drilling, oil sands

  • Coal-fired power lending threshold cut
  • Introduces new threshold for thermal coal
  • Cuts threshold for Arctic oil, oil sands

LONDON, April 22 (Reuters) - Swiss lender UBS (UBSG.S) said it has tightened its financing criteria for those involved in coal-fired power generation and mining, Arctic oil and tar sands, and would lay out a more detailed climate action plan later this year.

UBS was one of a number of banks to sign up to a global initiative launched on Wednesday by UN climate envoy Mark Carney aiming to accelerate efforts by the financial services sector to help decarbonise the global economy.

As part of its efforts to get to net zero carbon emissions across its business by 2050, the bank said it would further limit the lending it offers to companies involved in the most-contentious areas of the fossil fuel industry.

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For companies already involved in coal-fired power generation, UBS said on Thursday it would only lend if they relied on coal for less than 20% of their energy, down from 30% previously.

However, UBS said it would potentially lend to companies that breached this threshold if they had a transition strategy that was in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate, or if the lending was for renewable energy or clean technology.

For those involved in thermal coal mining, UBS said it was introducing a new threshold that would limit lending to those who make less than 20% of revenue from the activity, with the same caveats as for coal-fired power.

Lending to those with significant reserves or production in Arctic oil or oil sands, meanwhile, would be limited to those for which either accounted for less than 20% of reserves or production, down from a previous threshold of 30%, but also with the same caveats.

The bank said it planned to release a more detailed roadmap on its financing plans later in the year, as world leaders gear up for the next round of climate talks in Scotland.

“We’re preparing a detailed roadmap to net zero which places climate at the core of our sustainability strategy. It’s high on our clients’ agendas and we want to do more to help them on this journey,” said Suni Harford, President of UBS Asset Management.

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Reporting by Simon Jessop; editing by David Evans

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