30 Jun 2021

Nationwide calls for collective action as it commits to a net zero future

  • World’s largest building society pledges to go net zero by 2050 and joins the Net-Zero Banking Alliance
  • Nationwide will publish science-based targets on achieving intermediate 2030 goals over the next 18 months
  • Society is calling for significant collective action to help communities reach net zero goals

Nationwide Building Society today pledges to a Net Zero future by joining the UN backed Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA) and becoming part of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) helping transition the economy to net zero emissions by 2050. The Society will release a science-based intermediate target for 2030 over the next 18 months, but is calling for collective action to help reduce the carbon emissions of UK’s 29 million homes which account for around 15% of total UK carbon emissions, the second largest source. Nationwide will also report its progress against this target in light of the delivery of the government policy and other actions.

As a mutual, the Society has a smaller carbon footprint than many banks, as it is focused on its founding purpose of helping people into a home of their own and doesn’t have corporate lending or fossil fuel investments. This makes the 2030 targets even more ambitious as the Society is the UK’s second largest mortgage lender supporting millions of homes which will need to become more energy efficient to reach the ambitions of a net zero future.

Nationwide recognises that it can’t achieve a net zero future alone. The Society believes that only through the collective power of government, industry and consumers, can a clear and credible long-term plan to green homes be realised. Whilst these are complex challenges, the Society believes that an effective housing retrofit plan should focus on inspiring awareness and securing consumer trust in the benefits of retrofitting whilst being fairly financed.

Nationwide is convening cross industry groups and the Government to help make this plan a reality. The opportunity of retrofitting millions of homes, and creating more sustainable housing stock, would not only drastically reduce emissions, but it could also create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and improve the social, environmental and health impacts on communities across the country.

Joe Garner, Chief Executive, Nationwide Building Society, said: “Nationwide Building Society was founded for a social purpose to help what our founders called the industrious classes to improve their living conditions. Helping our members to green their homes in a fair and sustainable way is at the very core of that challenge today.

“We are delighted to sign up to the Net-Zero Banking Alliance committing us to a pathway to net zero by 2050 at the latest.  It’s only through collective action that we can achieve a net zero future, while making the most of opportunities to improve the quality of housing, unleash a jobs revolution and deliver truly sustainable growth.  We look forward to committing action and a powerful mutual voice to green UK homes.”

Eric Usher, Head of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative said: “The Net-Zero Banking Alliance is a key forum for industry-wide change on one of the most critical issues of our time; the climate. Nationwide joins a growing community of banks worldwide who are taking the lead with ambitious steps to align their activities with pathways to net-zero by 2050 or sooner, accelerating towards a positive future for people and planet.” 

Joining the NZBA forms part of the Society’s commitment to help cut carbon from homes across the UK. Nationwide is also using its expertise, partnerships, and innovation to help make millions of existing homes greener, more sustainable and fit for the future. This includes making £1 billion loan fund available for borrowers to reduce the carbon footprint of their homes and kickstart green home improvements and retrofitting. Nationwide also unveiled an ambitious plan to create one of Britain’s largest energy-efficient communities – a development where all the 239 homes are being built to leading environmental standards. The Society hopes this new approach to creating community-focused, more environmentally-friendly homes will be the start of a blueprint for new build homes across the UK. Nationwide is sharing all of their learnings and plans from this development in order to help create positive change.