Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  29 Jul 2010

ENVIRONMENT: Nedbank First to Achieve Carbon Neutrality


Recent Gauteng Business News

The Nedbank Group today announced that it has achieved carbon neutrality. This landmark achievement follows the announcement in September 2009 of the bank’s commitment to work towards carbon neutrality.

The accomplishment, which sees carbon neutrality attained across the group’s 13 head office and regional buildings and more than 490 branches, makes the Nedbank Group the first African financial services organisation to achieve effective zero carbon status, and further cements the bank’s reputation as one of the country’s, and continent’s environmental sustainability leaders.

Speaking at a media event to announce Nedbank’s carbon neutral status, group Chief Executive, Mike Brown, pointed out that the achievement of carbon neutrality not only represents the next chapter in the 'green' bank's climate change journey, but also epitomises the groups' commitment to playing a leading role in sustainability through an approach that balances environmental, social, cultural and economic sustainability issues.

“When we first indicated our intention to aim for carbon neutrality, we committed that we would strive to achieve it, as far as possible, by means of behaviour change, reduction targets (including paper, water, electricity, travel and waste), as well as operational efficiencies,” explains Brown, “and we have managed to deliver on that commitment with thanks, in large part, to the commitment of our staff.

Brown explains that this 'reduce first and offset only where necessary' approach was born of Nedbank's determination not to 'buy' its neutrality. "We have used carbon credits to offset our unavoidable emissions, and these were obtained from a sustainable project called Rukinga, which is based in Kenya and delivers both environmental and social benefits.” he says.

The Rukinga project is Africa’s first large-scale Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) initiative. In addition to restoring the natural environment and ecosystem in Kenya's Kasigau Corridor, the project is bringing substantial financial and social benefits to local communities, particularly through education, job creation, and accessible healthcare.

Brown points to the credibility of Nedbank’s approach to neutrality as another key enabler of its success, particularly when one considers that carbon neutrality was achieved against a significantly increased scope for Nedbank’s 2009 carbon footprint. The process included:
Adherence to the Carbon Neutral Protocol;
WWF-SA guidance in terms of carbon credit process and selection;
CCBA accreditation of the carbon credits; and
Ernst and Young assurance of carbon emissions data as part of the overall verification of the 2009 Sustainability Report.

Brown believes that achieving carbon neutrality in this verifiable and sustainable manner also serves as a further endorsement of Nedbank's current position as a leader in the South African Carbon Disclosure Project.

“As national Government’s focuses on utilising the opportunities offered by the green economy to address some of the environmental and social challenges faced by our country, Nedbank plans to leverage its carbon neutral status to help them drive the green agenda and deliver value for our stakeholders," he explains, "and we are already working on a number of innovative ‘green’ product offerings, as well as enhancing the carbon solutions offered by our Nedbank Capital carbon team, so as to grow Nedbank's share of both the retail and corporate banking markets going forward. We are also able to advise our clients and other stakeholders on the most effective ways to benefit from proposed and current legislative incentives arising from government's commitment to sustainable development."

Commenting on Nedbank's achievement, Richard Worthington from at WWF-SA, applauded the bank for taking the lead on environmental change, and its efforts to cultivate an ethos of responsibility within the financial sector and business environment. WWF has worked closely with Nedbank over the past five years in driving better practices with regards their environmental impact, including greenhouse gas emissions. “What is particularly encouraging is the support from bank’s leadership. They are actively behind the intensity reduction targets, which makes a huge difference to the success of Nedbank’s green endeavours." says Worthington, "we look forward to the next five years where we will continue to engage with them in driving ever more innovative practices towards a low carbon economy.”

“While we are obviously very pleased to have attained our objective of carbon neutrality, we are acutely aware that there is still work to be done. We are determined to continue leading the charge, particularly within corporate South Africa, and intend using our influence wherever possible to ensure that businesses in this country become more aware of the vital role they have to play in mitigating climate change through positive action,” Brown concludes.

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