Protecting the environment

Employee engagement

In 2008, more than a quarter of our employees made commitments to protect the environment through our ‘Race for a Living Planet’ campaign, and many more have taken action ranging from Group-wide social networking to local campaigns.

Enthusiastic involvement of employees is essential to achieve our targets. We need their commitment and welcome the fact that people increasingly expect their companies to promote high environmental standards. We encourage employees to take action at work, at home and in their communities.

Information and communication

Communicating with staff on the environment includes specific training on new initiatives such as our position statements on sensitive sectors and issues (see Sustainable finance). We also use a range of interactive and fun tools to engage and inspire staff.

Our intranet programme GEMS Office demonstrates the benefits of investment in environmentally-friendly infrastructure and people can play ‘Eco-Driving’ to learn how steady and safe driving can lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Our website features a ‘carbon calculator’ that is unique in covering 70 countries. People use it to estimate their personal carbon footprint and it helps them understand how to reduce their contribution to climate change, as well as stimulating them to change their behaviour.

In 2008, we capitalised on the global social networking phenomenon, launching our own intranet-based forum, Greenstorming. Using the popular, interactive conventions of sites such as Facebook and MySpace, employees learn about and debate environmental issues. Staff can read and contribute articles, set up action groups on specific issues, and read accounts of best practice action from across the Bank.

Greenstorming has already racked up 17,000 regular users. India, Singapore, Malaysia, China and Pakistan have the biggest user base.

Country activity

Country Environment Committees stimulate action in markets, focusing on the issues that are most pertinent to their country.

In Kenya, we worked with the Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forest Services in a campaign to save the Mau Forest, the largest remaining close-canopy forest block in East Africa. The combination of this conservation project and internal initiatives has achieved a 20 per cent reduction in paper use and a 10 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions from energy use per employee.

World Environment Day, on 5 June 2008, provided a focus for action involving employees, their families and community organisations. For example:

  • In Malaysia, we launched a ‘Trash and Treasure’ website to give people an easy alternative to throwing away things they no longer want. Staff advertise items which colleagues can acquire free of charge. Employees also participated in an environment-focused public speaking competition
  • In Singapore, over 80 per cent of staff participated in a ‘no car day’ encouraging people who normally drive or take a taxi to work to use alternative transport
  • In Taiwan, as part of the Earth Hour initiative, all the lights in the Bank’s 86 branches and ten buildings were switched off for an hour, saving energy and drawing people’s attention to energy waste. The event also involved 14 universities and received widespread publicity
  • In Uganda, we worked with microfinance specialist and climate change activist Paul Rippey (an associate of Al Gore) on a presentation to Ugandan Members of Parliament and officials about global warming, especially as it applies to East Africa and Uganda

India Environment Committee

Celebrates World Environment Day

Environment action in India ranged from high-profile activities on World Environment Day to participation in ‘Break the Climate Deadlock’ meetings led by the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Neeraj Swaroop, Chief executive officer India, spoke at the launch of the India Carbon Disclosure Project report in December 2008, describing how financial institutions can help support the shift to a low-carbon economy.

Employees from offices and branches all over the country were involved in World Environment Day events. Activities included a ‘walk to work’ day, employee volunteering to clean beaches, a ‘zero waste’ day, a ‘switch-off’ and ‘leave your car at home’ campaign, and an environment-themed drawing competition for employees’ children. The extent of our commitment to the environment was acknowledged by Dr R K Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The India Environment Committee is led by Hemant Mishr, head of sales, South Asia, Financial Markets, and supported by staff members from across the business functions. The committee is pursuing a comprehensive plan to address the impacts of our operations, engagement and innovative environment financing opportunities.

For example, payslips have been migrated to the Bank-wide online system, saving more than 330,000 sheets of paper a year. Similarly, retirement benefits have been switched to a secure email system.

The IT team in India has dramatically reduced its energy use through data centre optimisation and the use of more efficient equipment. Server virtualisation is expected to reduce energy demand by up to 80 per cent and avoid the need for an additional 77 servers.

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Highlights

  • 25 per centof employees made pledges in the Race for Living Planet
  • 17,000regular users of Greenstorming
  • 330,000sheets of paper saved through online payslips