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In face of pandemic, Barclays climate resolution reflects long-term climate threat

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Jeff Tyson

Amidst a global public health and economic crisis brought on by the fast spreading novel coronavirus, British investment bank and financial services company, Barclays, announced on Monday its plans for a climate finance resolution. The bank plans to bring down its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 and only finance projects that align with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

John Tobin

Professor of Practice at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management

Corporate finance expert John Tobin is professor of practice at the SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University and a conservation finance working group leader at the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability. He says Barclays’ climate finance resolution shows that while the pandemic will be globally devastating and disruptive, financial institutions are still keeping sight on the long-term challenges posed by climate change.

Tobin says:

“While our collective attention is focused on the pandemic now, and is likely to be in the coming months, the climate change issue is unfolding at a completely different time scale. The short-term impacts of the pandemic on the real economy are going to be severe, but in a year or two the economy will be licking its proverbial wounds and we will look back at this as a terrible episode.

“But the long-term challenges posed by climate change and biodiversity loss will still be with us. Barclays’ actions simply reflect the fact that financial institutions recognize that the climate issue is critical and is long-term.”

Andrew Karolyi

Professor of Asset Management and Finance

Andrew, Karolyi is professor of management at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business with expertise in corporate finance and international financial markets. He says the timing of Barclays' climate commitment is significant for keeping up momentum towards meeting international climate goals.

Karolyi says:

"Barclays' announcement on a net-zero commitment by 2050 is not a surprise given that they are one of the original signatories committed to the Task Force for Climate-Related Disclosures and of last Fall’s new UN Principles for Responsible Banking. Their institution is authentic in their commitment to advancing climate finance initiatives.

"Given the financial assets that Barclays commands around the world and given the economic and financial challenges the world faces during these challenging times, their commitment to these goals and their commitment to them now are important for the initiative to sustain its needed momentum."

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