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Deutsche Bank moves forward sustainability goals to ease criticism

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By Tom Sims and Patricia Uhlig

FRANKFURT (Reuters) -Deutsche Bank on Thursday brought forward to 2023 the goal of facilitating more than 200 billion euros ($244 billion) in sustainable financing and investments, as the top German lender tries to counter criticism over fighting climate change.

Chief Executive Officer Christian Sewing said the bank is seeking to become “a sustainability leader”. But it faces accusations from environmental groups Greenpeace and Urgewald that it is not doing enough on climate.

A series of new policies that also include reducing fuel consumption by the bank’s fleet of 5,400 corporate cars come as Deutsche managers brief investors, analysts and the media on sustainability later on Thursday.

Leading global lenders have been showcasing their commitment to sustainable investing, as pressure builds on banks to support the transition to a low-carbon and more environmentally friendly economy.

Deutsche Bank also said it would aim to have more female leaders, with women making up 35% of managing director, director and vice president roles by 2025 compared to 29% now.

The bank last year committed to at least 200 billion euros in sustainable investments and financing by 2025, but Sewing said on Thursday that the bank had made more progress than anticipated, reaching 71 billion euros by the end of March.

WINDOWDRESSING

“As we have been very successful over the first year since we announced our target, we have become more ambitious with regard to how fast we can achieve it,” Sewing said, adding that banks failing to embrace sustainability goals will lose out.

That includes facilitating and organising loans provided by the bank, bonds placed on behalf of its clients and assets managed by its private bank.

Environmental group Urgewald said, however, that some of Deutsche’s proposals, including reducing corporate car fuel use, were underwhelming.

“The fact that the bank has recognised how much it can profit from sustainable financial transactions is not ambitious, but pure opportunism,” said Regine Richter, finance campaigner at Urgewald.

“With this window dressing, Deutsche Bank is not doing justice to the climate crisis,” she said.

Greenpeace also had doubts, with Christoph Thies pointing to the French BNP Paribas as doing more on sustainability. BNP says it allocated and financed more than 200 billion euros last year alone on such projects, including renewable energy transition.

“Deutsche Bank is in no way a pioneer,” Thies said.

($1 = 0.8201 euros)

(Reporting by Tom Sims and Patricia UhligEditing by Riham Alkousaa and Gabriela Baczynska)

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