The Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland has called for the establishment of a public-private coalition on sustainable banking and green finance products here.

It comes as confirmation was received from the EU that Ireland had missed its annual emissions targets for a third year running last year.

Green finance is a $30 trillion industry worldwide and it has grown by about a third in the last three years.

"We're not going to transition to a more sustainable carbon-free or carbon neutral future unless we have products and services. And that requires capital.

"Banks are main providers of capital in terms of investment and services. Ultimately if we're to get to a better place, we need to banks to play a role," Brian Hayes, CEO of the Banking and Payments Federation said.


The range of products under the green finance umbrella extends from stock portfolios with sustainable investments to green bonds and right the way down to green mortgages, which some of the banks are already offering here.

"If you have a thermally efficient home, ultimately you're a less risky customer to the bank. We provide new products to service those new mortgages for the purposes of consumer who want to make that transition," Brian Hayes said. 

Ultimately banks - like all businesses - are about making money, but Brian Hayes argues that it is in their long term interest to embrace the green agenda.

In addition, he points out, it is what customers and industry players want. 

"Consumers are demanding it, bank staff are demanding it. We recognise that we've a responsibility, but it's also good business to make the transition. 

"If you've a balance sheet full of risky assets, that has a bigger provisioning requirement in terms of the amount of liquidity and capital on your balance sheet. If you have a balance sheet with more sustainable assets, it's in the long term interest of the bank. It's not just about doing the right thing for the environment, it's about making sure we have sustainable products into the future," he explained.

Mr Hayes said the idea of a public-private coalition on green finance came from the UK. It was, he said, essentially about getting around the table with government to deliver on their shared objectives.