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November 2021

What Does Climate Action Look Like at Bank J. Safra Sarasin?

As the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow draws to a close, the moment for concerted climate action at every level of society has arrived. At stake is nothing less than to keep the target alive of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.
Our Bank with its long pedigree in sustainable finance and asset management, can’t escape the growing scrutiny and demands for climate action and transparency. Bank J. Safra Sarasin is often asked “what does it do on climate action?” That is understandable given the growing awareness about the existential threat of climate change. Despite over 30 years of experience as a pioneer in sustainable investing, the Bank is careful to avoid any complacency or conceit about its role in mitigating climate change. Because whatever was done in the past, there will always be more to do.
At Bank J. Safra Sarasin, we integrate and embed sustainability into our core values, operations and business culture, and into every stage of the investment, analysis and advisory process. In practice, that means we contribute to sustainable development based on five objectives of our sustainability strategy:
  1. We embed sustainability in our corporate strategy and governance: Sustainability is an integral part of our corporate strategy and the way we manage and operate our business.
  2. We incorporate sustainability considerations in our core investment offering: Applying the sustainability lens at all times and embedding it at every stage of the investment process.
  3. We live a sustainable corporate culture: Human capital is our most valuable asset. Employee resilience is essential to our success.
  4. We are part of society: Contributing actively to society’s goals such as the Paris Agreement, via our long-standing sustainability commitments and by collaborating with investors.
  5. We manage resources efficiently: Monitoring environmental KPIs for operations and consistently implementing energy efficiency and decarbonisation measures.
The Bank’s ambition on climate action is backed by a series of sustainable equity strategies, including Global Climate 2035, SDG Opportunities and Green Planet. These innovative investment strategies are supported by our proprietary sustainable investment tools, including the Climate Engine that analyses and anticipates the trajectory of a company’s climate path. These achievements and progress are documented and updated in our annual Sustainability Report.
The financial sector has a crucial role to play in tackling climate change, demanding collaboration with multiple partners and stakeholders across different industries. We are active members and founders of a number of successful sustainability focused initiatives. These have created a vibrant ecosystem of investor associations and frameworks calling for determined climate action and commitments to achieve net-zero outcomes across the financial sector.
  1. Bank J. Safra Sarasin was a founding signatory of the UN supported Principles for Responsible Investment (UN PRI) which provides guidelines on responsible investing and integrating ESG into the investment process. The signatories aim to contribute to a more sustainable financial system and regularly report on progress.
  2. Following the launch of the Task Force for Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), the Bank was among the first Swiss financial to start implementing TCFD guidelines in 2017 and became official supporter in 2019. The Bank continuously aims to improve reporting climate-related risks and opportunities in the annual Sustainability Report.
  3. The Bank was a founding signatory of the UN supported Principles for Responsible Banking (UN PRB) in 2019. The signatories contribute to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal and Paris Agreement.  It consolidates our commitment to embed sustainability at the strategic and portfolio level and across all business activities.
  4. As a member of the Science-Based Targets Initiative the Bank is committed setting and externally validating science-based climate targets and contributed to the inaugural sector guidance for financial institutions in 2020.
  5. J. Safra Sarasin Sustainable Asset Management launched its Climate Pledge in 2020 to achieve carbon neutral outcomes for all assets under management by 2035. In support of our Climate Pledge, in 2021 J. Safra Sarasin Sustainable Asset Management joined the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative.
UN Climate Change Conference COP26 and the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net-Zero
Source: Sources: Bank J. Safra Sarasin, 2021; UNEP FI, 2021; Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative, 2021; Race to Zero, 202.
Note: *The Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance (NZAOA), Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA), Net-Zero Insurance Alliance (NZIA) are UN-convened.
The financial industry understands what is at stake at COP26 and knows it has a vital role to play in contributing to achieving the Paris Agreement. These unprecedented climate pledges are important first steps. Following up with setting science-based long-term and intermediary targets, with credible emissions reductions and withdrawing financing of fossil fuels, will be crucial to deliver net zero by 2050 and maintain the chance of limit global warming to 1.5°C by the end of the century.
At COP26 climate scientists and the International Energy Agency (IEA) assessed the current climate pledges and concluded that their effect could limit global warming to 1.9°C or even 1.8°C, if the pledges are implemented in full and on time. This indicates progress compared to a previous assessment of climate pledges resulting in limiting global warming to 2.7°C by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). According to an analysis by Climate Action Tracker (CAT), ca. 90% of global emissions are covered by net zero targets and if all are fully implemented, this would result in an optimistic scenario of 1.8°C. However, CAT notes that for 2030 targets remain inadequate and put us on a 2.4°C track. As the world counts down to 2030 in a decade of climate action, we have to urgently close the gap to 1.5°C.
Bank J. Safra Sarasin will continue its sustainability journey and remain at the forefront of sustainable development and a leading role in driving climate action across the financial industry.

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