Nedbank first in carbon neutrality

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 14 July 2010

Financial services group Nedbank yesterday announced that it had achieved carbon neutrality, becoming the first large corporation to do so in SA.

Nedbank's billboard woven from 2000 recycled plastic bags

The group also became the first financial services organisation in Africa to achieve this status.

Nedbank CEO Mike Brown said the achievement epitomised Nedbank’s commitment to playing a leading role in sustainability.

Mr Brown said that the bank would leverage its carbon neutral status to help the government drive the green economy and deliver value for its stakeholders.

He said that Nedbank had saved R28m through reducing its use of electricity, paper and water, and had spent R2m on measuring its carbon footprint.

It offset 213000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent gases through carbon credits obtained from the Rukinga project in Kenya, at a cost of R12m.

Rukinga’s carbon credits had brought much-needed jobs and social benefits to its community, while allowing its land to be restored. Mr Brown also said that the group would offset its carbon footprint every year and hoped to secure a more diverse portfolio of carbon offsets in future.

He said that Nedbank would focus on the “huge challenge” of water for SA’s sustainability.

“I encourage all corporates to move to carbon neutrality,” Mr Brown said.

The group is developing green finance products, including finance for solar water heaters, using credit card transaction data to estimate consumers’ carbon footprints, finance to retrofit existing buildings to energy efficiency standards, and paperless banking.

Richard Worthington, climate change programme manager for the World Wide Fund for Nature , applauded Nedbank’s commitment but warned that more action was needed on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

“Business and industry have been appalling on energy efficiency,” he said, urging Nedbank to “shame others in following suit”.

Mr Worthington said SA’s current per capita carbon emissions were about 10 tons per person, and this needed to be reduced to one ton per person by 2050, in line with the carbon budget he said that SA could expect to receive.

Kevin Whitfield, head of African treasuries, carbon and financial products, said it was difficult to finance concentrated solar projects without guaranteed offtake agreements, as the capital costs were high.

However, Nedbank is assessing wind-power projects, hydropower, biomass and co- generation projects.

By: Jocelyn Newmarch
Source: Business Day

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