How Banks Respond to Climate Change

Bettina Furrer, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Jens Hamprecht and Volker H. Hoffmann, both of ETH Zurich, published “Much Ado About Nothing? How Banks Respond to Climate Change” on December 12th, 2011 in Business & Society. To view other OnlineFirst articles, please click here.

The abstract:

The effect of the financial sector on climate change remains largely underestimated. Banks can steer investments of their customers in low-emission technologies and adjust the conditions of loans that they provide to greenhouse gas intensive sectors. However, the authors’ research shows that few banks take such substantive action when they implement their climate strategy. The authors analyze 114 listed banks around the world and find evidence for deflective decoupling. This evidence means that banks that implement a climate strategy often decouple it from their main value creating processes such as lending and investment. Those banks that engage in more substantive action still combine it with symbolic activities which may facilitate the strategic change process. This study contributes to the literature on organizations and the natural environment as the authors specify which kind of banks implement substantive climate strategies. This research holds important implications for policy makers and managers who aim to implement a climate strategy in organizations that create value through information and financial flows but not with a physical transfer of goods.

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