Climate change and our environmental impact
As noted in the Annual Review 2019, the Bank recognises and is responding to increasing community and shareholder concerns about climate change and the impact that businesses have on the environment they operate in.
To this end, we have established a dedicated Climate Change team and are evolving our approach to managing climate-related risks. This work involves considering the adoption of the framework issued by the Financial Stability Board Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.
A significant volume of work is underway and as we continue to further develop our approach to managing climate-related risks, we will publicly disclose in more detail how the Bank is managing climate risks and opportunities. We anticipate this disclosure will commence during calendar year 2020.
We acknowledge the Bank has to date not formally discussed a public position specific to the Paris Agreement. The Bank’s formal stance on this matter is currently under review and consideration as part of the broader work mentioned above. Pleasingly, the Bank’s current Statement of Commitment to the Environment ensures the Bank’s operations and activities are not inconsistent with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
In this Statement, established a decade ago, the Executive team pledged to:
- Actively identify opportunities to reduce the Bank’s environmental footprint
- Assist our staff, customers, partners, shareholders and communities to identify opportunities to reduce their environmental footprints
- Consider the environment in all relevant business decisions
- Commit to measure and report progress in acting to achieve these goals
Work together to make a difference.
In line with this commitment, the Bank has and will continue to support long term strategies that aim to reduce our environmental footprint. We provide full disclosure of our carbon emissions, and where relevant, we consider the social and environmental outcomes of the business decisions we make. We also develop and participate in initiatives that offset our environmental impact, educating and encouraging others to do the same.
We recognise we have an obligation to the environment. But it’s more than that. We work towards creating a sustainable difference because we recognise and accept the impact climate change is having on the world.
Some examples of relevant initiatives include:
- The Bank’s contribution to the Greenfleet Program this year which resulted in 18,329 trees planted across Australia, improving water quality, reducing soil degradation and providing essential habitat for native wildlife.
- Our Bank does not lend to projects in the coal and coal seam gas sectors, and we have taken a pragmatic approach that says it makes no sense to broaden our footprint by starting to do so.
- The Bank aims to reduce its use of natural resources where possible in our offices and throughout our branch network. We do this through initiatives that reduce waste, save energy, water and paper, and improve energy efficiency.
- Seventy percent of the power the Group purchases is matched against renewable sources. An additional 41 Community Bank branches across Australia also purchase power which is matched against renewable energy sources.
- Follow Me Printing is a print reduction initiative that allows staff to select documents to print from a networked printer, reducing unclaimed, misprinted or lost documents. A combination of the full rollout of this initiative and other paper saving initiatives have resulted in a 2.75 percent reduction in paper use from last year. The Bank also has a continuing commitment to purchase 100 percent carbon neutral paper for all sites.
- The Bank relaunched Switch to Save this year, a program that forms part of the Victorian Government’s energy saving scheme to encourage Victorian households and businesses to exchange their power-thirsty halogen down lights with energy efficient LED lights free. In the past year, about 55,000 lights were installed at 2,680 houses and businesses, saving 47,200 tonnes of carbon emissions or the equivalent to removing 10,000 cars off the road for a year.
- Many of our Community Bank partners participate in various environmental improvement initiatives through the distribution of profits generated through the Community Bank model. For example, contributing to solar panel installations on schools and the establishment of a mini-hydro in Warburton.
- In addition, the Bank donated more than $65,000 to fund selected local Victorian primary schools’ environmental programs.
More information about a range of other sustainability initiatives the Bank participates in can be found on our website.