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Q&A - Environment & climate


We address environmental aspects in financing and investments as well as in managing our direct impact. Environmental responsibility concerns the impact that we or our business partners have on living and non-living natural systems, including ecosystems, land, air and water. We incorporate environmental  and climate considerations into strategic planning, business development, risk management, in credit assessments and customer selection processes. 

SEB has endorsed the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations, a global initiative aiming to increase and harmonise companies’ climate-related financial disclosure to stakeholders. Our impact on the climate is both direct through our own emissions and indirect through our customers’ emissions. In order to manage our direct impact, we set targets for our carbon emissions. To manage the indirect impact, we have developed a classification model that is used for assessing our corporate customers’ current and future climate impacts.

Our approach to managing climate change risks is integrated in the overall business strategy and we have committed to align our strategy with the Paris Agreement.We aim to support our customers in meeting the Paris Agreement through an orderly transition. In dialog with our customers, we will continue to engage for a transition where we see that it is possible, where customers have a clear plan for transformation, and where we as a bank can have a positive impact by for example financing renewable energy and new technology.

To manage our indirect impact, we have developed a model that is used for assessing corporate customers’ current and future climate impacts, the Customer Sustainability Classification Model. This model is used as a tool to engage with customers in constructive dialogues about their decarbonisation strategies. Hereby we can support companies in transition with advisory services and financing for potential investment needs. The model also enables us to measure and report on the aggregate climate impact of our credit portfolio and to set strategic goals for shifting and aligning our activities with the climate objectives of the Paris Agreement. We describe our approach to climate change, and how we manage our direct and indirect climate impact in the TCFD report, include in the Annual and Sustainability Report 2020, p. 52–58.

In April 2021 SEB joined the UN-initiated Net-Zero Banking Alliance through which we commit to align our attributable emissions from our lending and investment portfolios with pathways to net-zero by 2050 or sooner.

As a bank, we have a key role in financing the transition that has already started and which must accelerate in the future. We offer our customers advice and financial solutions to increase access to renewable energy and other technologies that support the transition and decrease the dependency on fossil fuels. We help our customers identify sustainable business opportunities and manage potential risks, and based on a common view of a desired future we agree on a path forward. In those cases where we don’t share a joint understanding we will however over time disengage in an orderly way.

We work actively to reduce our own environmental impact. We aim for emissions of greenhouse gases from energy consumption, use of paper, company cars and business travel to be almost zero by 2045. Through climate compensation our goal is to reach a net effect of zero already from 2021.

SEB’s goal to reduce our own carbon emissions by 20% between 2015 and 2020 was achieved by far. Changed travel pattern was the biggest contribution to the reduced CO2 emissions. This changed pattern was of course closely linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020, we had around 9,700 tonnes of own CO2 emissions. That is 0,61 tonne per employee in SEB. Our business travel is the biggest source of CO2 emissions followed by emissions from energy consumption in our buildings. Read about our direct environmental impact and in SEB’s Annual and Sustainability Report 2020, p. 204.

We recognise the need for society to reduce its dependency on fossil fuel related products given their significant negative climate impact. In February 2021 SEB’s Board of Directors adopted a strengthened policy of fossil fuels. The policy includes a roadmap for how SEB will phase out its exposure to coal and to unconventional oil. It also strengthens SEB’s guidelines regarding environmentally sensitive areas such as the Arctic. We will continue to gradually reduce our credit exposure to fossil fuels within the oil- and gas sector by applying a cap to exploration, production and oilfield services activities. This cap is lowered annually.

Read the full Policy on Fossil Fuel.

SEB has a restricted approach to coal which is stated in the strengthened sector policy on fossil fuel that was published in February 2021. For existing operations we avoid providing financial services to, or invest in, companies engaging in the practice of mountain top removal. SEB will exit current business relationship where more than 5 per cent of the revenues by 2025 is derived from thermal coal mining. For Germany there is a time-limited exception, related to the German national legislation. We shall avoid entering into new business relationships with companies operating thermal coal mines or providing dedicated financing to thermal coal mines. For several years we have excluded financing of new coal-fired power plants.

For new projects and capacity expansion we also avoid providing financial services to, or invest in projects that are dedicated to thermal coal extraction, greenfield or brownfield thermal coal mining expansions as well a infrastructure projects that are dedicated to thermal coal. Learn more in SEB’s Policy on Fossil Fuel.

SEB’s fund company has a strict approach to fossil fuels. All funds exclude companies that extract or process fossil fuels, including extraction of unconventional fossil fuels, such as oil sands and deep-sea drilling in particularly sensitive areas. Similar restrictions apply for power generation and distribution of fossil fuels. Exceptions can be made for companies that have clear targets and show ongoing active transition plans in line with the Paris Agreement. Read the fund company’s Sustainability Policy.

We perform engagement dialogues by ourselves and in collaboration with other investors such as Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) and PRI Clearinghouse. We also work with Hermes Equity Ownership Services (EOS), an international leader in engaging companies in dialogue. Hermes EOS maintains ongoing, direct dialogue with the management and the board of the companies in which we invest.

SEB's fund company has signed the Montreal Carbon Pledge and thereby commits to annually report on funds’ carbon footprint. In 2020, 95 per cent of SEB’s equity funds were measured and reported from all three central emission areas (scope 1–3) according to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. The calculations are based on the Swedish Investment Funds Association’s guidelines for fund companies operating in the Swedish market. Read more about our funds' carbon emission in SEB’s Annual Report and Sustainability Report 2020, p 57.


SEB’s product offering reflects one of our main ambitions – to support our customers in the transition to a low-carbon economy and to contribute to a more prosperous future for people and businesses. Among the examples are:

Green bonds

A green bond is a fixed-income instrument designed to fund specific projects that have positive environmental and/or climate benefits. SEB is a pioneer and have been a global thought leader in green bonds for more than ten years. Since inception in 2008 we are the seventh largest underwriter globally. In 2020, SEB had a leading position in the Nordic market with a share of 20 per cent of global transactions by Nordic banks, and had underwritten an aggregate volume of USD 4.7bn.

Read about some of our transactions in 2020 in the Annual and Sustainability Report 2020.

Green loans

A green loan is like any other loan, but the money must be used to support climate and environmentally friendly purposes. For a loan to be eligible for funding by SEB's Green Bond, emitted in 2017, it needs to adhere to SEB's Green Bond Framework. The Green Bond Framework ensures that SEB’s green bond, by financing green loans, is used for low-carbon and climate change resilient projects and investments. In addition, the green loans should promote environmental and ecosystem improvements and thereby also support the SDGs.

Sustainability-linked loans

The loan cost is linked to the client’s ability to perform on ESG issues such as climate impact mitigation. SEB was a pioneer in linking a sustainability linked loan to Science Based Targets, which links the corporates climate impact reduction to the Paris Agreement. This makes it scientific, measurable and monitorable.

Sustainability-linked bonds

A sustainability-linked bond is linked to the issuer’s sustainability strategy and performance based on predefined and externally verifiable key performance indicators. If the target for the KPIs are not reached, it will lead to a cost for the issuer and a premium for the investors, which can i.a. be regulated either through an adjusted coupon or, as in this case, an adjusted redemption price, which are determined in a reconciliation prior to the bond’s maturity.

Green constructions loans

SEB offers the possibility to apply for green construction loans when financing residential and commercial properties of any size. SEB uses green funding to finance the properties that are classified as green.

Green car leasing

In 2019, we launched green car leasing, which is yet another way for us to contribute to the shift to a low-carbon society. The solution is offered to corporate customers and organisations that choose electric or biogas cars. 

Green mortgages

SEB was the first large bank in Sweden to offer green mortgages and loans to housing associations. This is based on SEB’s belief that the houses that qualify as green will have substantial energy savings making them less exposed to energy price fluctuations but also more attractive and thus easier to sell. 

Green investment products

SEB has various savings and investment products that aim to mitigate climate change. As an example all SEB labelled funds exclude companies that extract or process fossil fuels, including extraction of unconventional fossil fuels, such as oil sands and deep-sea drilling in particularly sensitive areas. Similar restrictions apply for power generation and distribution of fossil fuels. Exceptions can be made for companies that have clear targets and show ongoing active transition plans in line with the Paris Agreement. Read about our exclusion criteria. Among other investment products that contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions are the Green Bond Fund and the Lyxor SEB Impact Fund. Read more about impact investment products (in Swedish).

SEB’s green loan portfolio includes “eligible assets”, i.e. loans and leases to corporate clients in line with SEB’s green bond framework that promotes the transition to a low carbon and/or climate resilient development as well as environmental end ecosystem improvements. In 2020, the green loan portfolio amounted to SEK 25.5 billion. About half of the assets consists of renewable energy projects and the remainder is financing of green buildings, clean transportation and energy efficiency projects. Read SEB’s Green Bond Impact Report.

SEB has chosen not to certify according to any international Environmental Management Standard, e.g. ISO 14001. However, we have major elements of an environmental management system implemented in the organisation. We have a clear organisational structure in place, governing our sustainability work and structure as well as clarifying responsibility for environment aspects. We have an environmental policy and set annual environmental targets that is followed up and reviewed by a third party audit.