Commerzbank AG is a German, internationally active universal bank headquartered in Frankfurt am Main. Climate, environmental and species protection are important aspects of our corporate responsibility in practice - alongside social concerns such as human rights or equal participation. Therefore, sustainability is one of the four pillars of our Strategy 2024. By joining BiGCI and committing to the goals of the International Convention on Biological Diversity, we aim to deepen our efforts on behalf of biodiversity and anchor them even more firmly in our banking strategy in the future.
As early as 1990, Commerzbank launched the Environmental Internship together with German national parks. Today, we cooperate with 27 conservation areas and finance 75 internships there with a focus on education for sustainable development. The aim is to teach children and young people about the importance of nature conservation and biodiversity. The program was honoured in 2007 as an official project of the UN World Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, followed by recognition as an official project of the UN Decade of Biological Diversity on its 25th anniversary in 2015. Another example of our socio-ecological commitment is our cooperation with the Mountain Forest Project, which has enabled more than 1 million square meters of public forest in Germany to be reforested since fall 2018.
To help mitigate climate change, Commerzbank formulated its own climate strategy at an early stage and reduced around 70% of its greenhouse gas emissions from banking operations between 2007 and 2018. By 2025, emissions are to be reduced by a further 15% (base year 2018). Emissions that cannot be avoided to date have been offset since 2015 by investments in high-quality climate protection projects that are also committed to preserving biodiversity, among other things. This was subsequently followed by a major step: since 2021, Commerzbank has been part of the Net-Zero Banking Alliance of UNEP FI, the finance initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme. We have set ourselves the goals of reducing the CO2 emissions of our own banking operations to net zero by 2040 and the carbon footprint of the bank's entire lending and investment portfolio by 2050 at the latest.
After all, it is even more effective than reducing our own carbon footprint to incorporate climate protection into our core business. Commerzbank has been active in financing renewable energies since the 1980s, and today we are one of the largest financiers in Europe. Green and social bonds or emissions trading also help to finance the transformation towards sustainable economies in order to achieve the United Nations' 2030 Agenda (SDGs), the Paris Climate Agreement and the European Union's Green Deal.
In our core business, we have so far considered biodiversity conservation primarily when reviewing the environmental and social risks of our products, our customers, or the businesses we finance. For example, we have strict exclusion criteria in the mining sector and ensure, among other things, that the protection of "High Conservation Value Areas" is maintained. FSC or PEFC certification is relevant for us in business relationships with companies in the timber, pulp, and paper industries. We only support palm oil-related business if the company is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. We also apply other industry-specific sustainability criteria, for example for the meat industry (Roundtable on Sustainable Beef) or soy producers (Roundtable on Responsible Soy).
In the future, we also intend to take a strategic look at the impact of our business activities on biodiversity and the consequences of species extinction for us as a bank. We hope that membership of the Biodiversity in Good Company Initiative will provide valuable input in this regard