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External engagement

Our customers, clients and key stakeholders can leverage our commitment and influence beyond our organisational borders. It is important that we work with them to encourage sustainable behaviour change and the adoption of environmentally conscious practices.

Customers help us reduce our direct environmental impacts

Our approach to raising our customers’ awareness focuses on increasing energy efficiency and reducing resource consumption, and is driven by our Consumer Banking business. 

This year Consumer Banking made significant steps in embedding environmental considerations into their core business operations:

  • e-statements – the introduction and promotion of e-statements across Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand and the UAE has led to a 20 per cent reduction in the number of customers requiring printed statements.  This equates to an annual saving of $3.9 million and the preservation of 447 trees
  • application forms and terms and conditions – staff in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, UAE and India have worked to reduce the amount of paper required for application forms and terms and conditions associated with credit cards, current accounts, savings accounts and personal loans. They have reduced the number of fields that customers must complete and introduced plainer language. Paper use for application forms has fallen by 20-25 per cent, while a 30-35 per cent reduction in the paper required for terms and conditions has been recorded
  • energy efficient branches – a full energy audit of bank branches was carried out this year, and $3.3 million was allocated to improve efficiency, including measures such as the introduction of energy efficient lighting and air conditioning. Our renovations to branches are now as energy efficient as market conditions permit.  Our environmental standards were also extended this year to include non-customer facing offices within Consumer Banking

Clients help us reduce our indirect impacts through our financing activities

We encourage and facilitate long term, sustainable behaviour change through our 13 sector and issue position statements, which were made publicly available in March, and our Renewable Energy and Environmental Finance (REEF) strategy. 

Wholesale Banking is driving the implementation of our position statements, with support from Group Sustainability. This is covered in depth in the Promoting Sustainable Finance section of this review.

Engaging with stakeholders enables us to learn best practices, and appreciate different perspectives on the same issue

We aim to promote our commitment to protecting the environment through participation in key policy discussions and projects, and through the partnerships we forge. 

Policy and strategic initiatives - our policy and strategic initiatives are discussed in greater depth in the strategic priorities section here.

Partnerships – forging and maintaining partnerships with stakeholders that share our commitment to protecting the environment is a significant part of what we do.

  • we have been a member of the Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change since 2004, and were a signatory to the Copenhagen Communiqué
  • a member of the United Nations Environmental Programme and a corporate sponsor of the Annual UNEP-FI Roundtable Conference
  • a member of The Climate Group and a founding signatory to The Climate Principles
  • we organised environmental and social risk training for Chinese financial institutions including Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Eximbank, Industrial Bank, Sinosure and the China Banking Regulatory Commission

We are particularly proud of our achievements against The Climate Principles, a summary of which is provided here:

Our achievements against section 1 of The Climate Principles

# Wording of Principles Disclosure requirement Our action to meet Climate Principles
1.1 We have issued a strategy or position that indicates how we undertake our business in a way that reduces the climate and operational carbon impact of our activities.
  • Publicly available climate change strategy or position that outlines how the organisation is addressing the relevant items covered by the Principles.
  • Our 2011 environment and climate change strategy and approach to environmental and climate change is outlined on our website.
  • Our annual Sustainability Review explains our environment and climate change strategy.
  • Our climate change position statement highlights our commitment to the Climate Principles and is applicable to all financial services across Wholesale Banking and SME Banking.
  • An updated Environment and Climate Change Policy is available on our website from 2010.
  • We adopted the Equator Principles in 2003; introduced an environmental and social risk policy in 2007; and introduced 13 sector and issue position statements outlining our approach to environmental and social governance this year.
1.2 We have board level commitment for the strategy or position and a named senior executive director who has responsibility for its implementation across our organisation and for ensuring that decisions taken are consistent with it. This executive has the necessary resources to meet the commitments contained in our strategy or position.
  • Named senior executive director responsible for our strategy or position.
  • Overview indicating responsibilities for implementing the strategy or position and for achieving targets set by our organisation.
  • Overview of how climate change issues are managed across our business.
  • The Bank’s 2011 environment and climate change strategy is endorsed by our Group Management Committee and our Group Environment Committee.
  • The role of our Group Environment Committee is outlined on our website and in our Sustainability Review.
  • Tim Miller, Director Property, Research and Assurance, chairs our Group Environment Committee. The committee also has senior representation from across our businesses and support functions
  • Paul Skinner, an independent non-executive director, is the Chair of the Sustainability Risk Committee (SRC). This is a Board committee responsible for oversight and review of our brand positioning, reputational risk, culture and values; and for sustainability, ethical and social legitimacy issues including the customer and client relationships.
  • Responsibilities and how we manage environment and climate change across our Wholesale Banking and Consumer Banking businesses are outlined on our website and in the Sustainability Review.
1.3 We have measured a significant proportion of our operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions using an internationally recognised or equivalent domestic standard and we disclose this information.
  • Public disclosure of operational GHG emissions.
  • Public disclosure of reduction targets, revisions thereof and timeframes.
  • Annual reporting of progress towards targets.
  • Our operational GHG emissions target is reported and disclosed on our website and in the Sustainability Review
  • Reduction targets are reported on our website and in the Sustainability Review
  • Annual reporting of progress against target is available on our website and in the Sustainability Review
1.4 We have issued clear and challenging, yet achievable, targets for making reductions in our operational GHG emissions.
  • Publicly available quantitative and qualitative targets for reducing operational GHG emissions.
  • Our targets for 2006 to 2008 (as reported on our website and in the Sustainability Review):  Reduced CO2 emissions from energy consumption by 14 per cent (target 10 per cent) per full-time employee (FTE); reduced CO2 emissions from air travel by 20 per cent (target 10 per cent) per FTE between 2006 and 2008. 
  • Our targets for 2008-2011 (as reported on our website and in the Sustainability Review): Reduce energy consumption by 10 per cent per square metre; and reduce carbon emissions from air travel by 35 per cent (to 0.5 tonnes per FTE).
1.5 We engage our employees on our commitment to addressing climate change and support them in playing an active role in meeting this commitment.
  • Publicly reported employee awareness raising and/or training programmes and methods to assess success of that process.
  • Publicly reported approaches used to encourage employees to take action on climate change at work and/or home.
  • Our employee training and awareness programmes are reported on our website and in the Sustainability Review. For example: eLearning modules for Health, Safety and Environment and sustainable lending; a  social media intranet site called Greenstorming; and a tool used to assess an individual’s environmental impact at home, the workplace and on holidays, called My Environment. We also make some engagement programmes publicly available, such as a carbon calculator and Creating a Climate for Change film; both of which are available on our website.
  • As above. Our approach to support employees in taking action on climate change is reported on our website and in the Sustainability Review. For example – the carbon calculator and awareness raising activities such as A Lot of Hot Air.

The disclosure requirements for sections two and three of the Principles will be finalised in 2010, after which we will report against them  through The Climate Group’s annual reporting initiative. A report compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers, summarising the progress of adopting institutions to date, will be made public in early 2010. This report will be available on the Climate Principles’ website:

Paper reduction

Case Study: Paper reduction in India

Our Consumer Banking operations in India undertook a full review of their new account opening forms and the term and conditions associated with credit cards, current accounts, savings accounts and personal loans...

Find out more

Report tools

Annual Report and Accounts 2009