Barclays has announced a three-year partnership with Oxford University’s Sustainable Finance Group (OxSFG) and the UK Centre for Greening Finance and Investment (CGFI).
This first of its kind project will meet the urgent need to generate better emissions data and establish decarbonisation pathways which would enable Barclays and other financial institutions to support clients in the UK agriculture sector to lower emissions and transition to more sustainable practices. Methods developed under this partnership will underpin the setting of medium-term targets by Barclays to reduce emissions resulting from financing activities to agriculture clients – key to the bank’s commitment to align its financing to the goals and timelines of the Paris Agreement.
Dr Ben Caldecott, Director of the Oxford Sustainable Finance Group and Director of the UK CGFI, said:“The financial sector has a crucial role to play in unlocking the rapid decarbonisation of the agricultural sector. We are delighted to partner with Barclays on this project, creating open data and analytics that can drive better financial decisions. This project will support UK farmers and the UK agriculture sector to achieve net zero.”
Adam White, Barclays’ Head of Agriculture, said: “We are very excited about working with the University of Oxford to deliver better farm-level emissions data. Farmers we talk to across the UK are keen to engage on the journey to net zero, however they are sometimes unsure of the actions to take or the impact of those actions. This work will enable us to support more customers on confidently taking the steps towards net zero in line with sector pathways and continue to support a vibrant UK agriculture sector.”
Decarbonisation of the agriculture sector is a priority given the criticality of a reliable food supply and its significant contribution to the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. However, it has proved difficult to track emissions consistently across the sector and define appropriate metrics – particularly at an individual farm-level. As a founding member of the UN-convened Net-Zero Banking Alliance, Barclays has committed to setting science-based targets in relation to its financing for the highest emitting sectors by 2024, including agriculture. However, data on baseline emissions, including identifying appropriate decarbonisation pathways for the sector, is a prerequisite to enable banks to set achievable, science-based emission reduction targets for their financing of the sector.
The Barclays-OxSFG project seeks to resolve this by working to establish robust measurement approaches of greenhouse gas emissions at the farm-level and relevant decarbonisation pathways for the sector that are aligned to the goals and timelines of the Paris Agreement.
Billy Suid, Barclays’ Group Head of Climate Risk, said: “We are delighted to embark on this innovative partnership with The University of Oxford. Agriculture is the bedrock of civilisation and there remain a lot of questions around its transition to a low carbon economy. By putting in place a credible methodology for monitoring emissions and creating transition pathways, we can empower the sector and its providers of financing with tools to realise its potential for transformation. I look forward to our collaboration with Oxford as we take these next steps towards net zero together.”
Barclays will incorporate these outputs into BlueTrack™, the bank’s methodology for measuring financed emissions and tracking them at a portfolio-level against a benchmark aligned to the goals of the Paris Agreement.
In addition, the outputs from this project will be made publicly available, allowing other financial institutions to gain access to valuable data and methodologies to calculate their portfolio emissions and set emission reduction targets. This mirrors the transparent approach Barclays has taken to date, sharing details of BlueTrack’s™ methodology in a series of whitepapers.