A week before its AGM, Deutsche Bank published a new ESG strategy that was deemed to be so out of touch with current trends that campaigners said it was an “embarrassing testament to the fact that the bank’s understanding of sustainability is stuck in the 90s”.
The bank is Europe’s fifth largest fossil fuel financier, and its energy policy is lagging behind those of its peers. A countermotion filed by ShareAction expressed concerns about Deutsche Bank’s financing of the oil sands industry. Deutsche Bank is Europe’s third largest oil sands financier and a backer of companies such as Enbridge and TC Energy, both of which are involved in the controversial Keystone XL and Line 3 Replacement pipelines. It called on the bank to implement a robust screening policy for oil sands companies, commit to a clear, time-bound plan to phase out its existing exposure to oil sands assets, and commit to help clients develop and publish oil sands phase-out plans by no later than December 2023.
It seems that Deutsche Bank’s announcements have failed to impress investors as today Amundi and Nordea Asset Management publicly expressed their concern over the company’s involvement in thermal coal. They said that Deutsche Bank is Europe’s second largest financier of coal mining, and the Europe’s eight largest financier of coal power, and asked it to:
- expand its coal policy by explicitly excluding coal developers (any company that is building or planning to build new coal plants, mines, coal ports or affiliated railway lines)
- commit to phase out from coal by 2030 for the OECD and by 2040 for the rest of the world
- help clients develop, publish and implement coal phase-out plans in line with the 2030/2040 timeline (no later than December 2023)
The environmental NGO Urgewald and the Association of Ethical Shareholders in Germany also raised alarm bells about Deutsche Bank’s lack of plans to phase out from fossil fuels, despite the bank’s commitment to net-zero. They noted that the bank is a top financier of companies with fossil fuel expansion plans and is arranging Wintershall Dea’s upcoming initial public offering. Wintershall Dea is planning to increase its oil and gas production by 30% just over the next two years.