Fernando Rodríguez | “Nor do we know what rules the EBA is going to impose on these issues, or how some of the measures the ECB may take will affect capital ratios. So regulation is making it difficult for us to grow, because of all the limitations and all the capital requirements being imposed on us,” explains Ramiro Mato, chairman of the responsible banking, sustainability and corporate governance committee at Santander Bank: “For example, in Poland 70% of energy still comes from coal, and we cannot stop financing our customers all at once.”
Q: How do you see the world of investment in sustainability, to which the bulk of European aid will be dedicated?
A: I see that in the coming years we are all going to have a lot of work to do, banks, companies and governments, with climate change and the green economy. We need to see how we meet all the objectives that have been set and which are also important for supervisors. We are seeing a commitment from all companies to improve in this respect. We have taken a leadership role on this issue and we are committed to meeting all the goals of the Paris Agreement by 2030 and to achieving zero carbon emissions by 2050. And there are going to be opportunities in this area. There will be financing for the restructuring companies have to undergo to complete their ecological transition. And in infrastructure, financing will also have to be provided….
Q: There is already an obligation to report on ESG issues but there are still no clear, comparable standards.
A: Indeed, there are many things that are not defined. We don’t know what is green and what is brown, which is why we have been calling for a long time for a common taxonomy, as broad as possible, to define clearly where we should act and where we should not. At the moment, companies have to work with things that are not yet defined. Nor do we know what rules the EBA is going to impose on these issues, or how some measures that the ECB may take in the future are going to affect capital ratios. So regulation is making it difficult for us to grow, because of all the limitations and all the capital requirements being imposed on us.
Q: Requirements also in the reporting of financial and non-financial information?
A: We are already used to the reporting requirements. What is important is that there is a gradual evolution in the additional requirements and a constant dialogue with the regulator so they understand the impact of what they are demanding.
Q: What kind of ESG issues are large institutional investors most concerned about?
A: Large investors such as BlackRock have made public lists of banks and companies in which they will not invest because they engage in or finance activities such as arms sales or pollution. We have taken this on board and we also have a commitment to reduce emissions and which companies we can invest in and which not. But we also give them time to make the ecological transition. For example, in Poland 70% of energy still comes from coal and we cannot suddenly stop financing our clients. What we have to do is to help them and accompany them in their transition to a low-carbon economy. We have a very important role to play there.