Thursday, September 30, 2010

Emissions down, interest up: Banking on a carbon neutral future

It's highly unlikely that the thing to bring me back out of my grumpy hiatus from blogging about climate change (after ex-PM Rudd stalled on the ETS), would be a press release. Particular one from a bank. Like most of Australia, I suspect, the only reason why I am still with my current bank is that they are the best of a bad lot.

But, when one of the big four are telling me they are now carbon neutral, and it doesn't smell of green-wash at first sniff, I'm encouraged to notice the real-world progress being made while certain political parties bugger around spoiling. I am reminded that procurement departments in large companies in Australian and globally are sending out forms to all of their suppliers, getting them to record what systems they have implemented to record and reduce their carbon footprints. Tendering offices are responding to requests of the same. Marketing departments are framing the triple bottom line. Supply-chains are greening.

Beavering on in the background of the busy commercial world, the biggest survey since Domesday is going on. Facilities managers are recording the savings in energy and recyclables and environmental performance now makes the annual report. Top 200 CEOs are proudly talking up their companies' newly declared carbon neutral pledges, as if they were hippies at a Stonehenge Solstice moon festival. It's not all puffery, these companies are now subscribing to rigid environmental management standards like the ISO14000+ series. Tangible, verifiable stuff - ETS-proof.

HR departments are running behavioural change programs. Photocopiers are being changed to print double sided, and idle out. Screen savers drop into energy saving mode after 30 seconds, down from 5 minutes. Cardboard boxes for paper waste are replacing the all purpose desk bins at employees cubicles and now the poor darlings have to make the trip to the communal recycling bins for any other waste disposal matters. Early grumblings soon becomes office chatter as the food and organic waste bin becomes the new water-cooler in my office.

Everywhere there is cause for optimism: Energy is being saved, emissions cut, cars are being taken off the road as far as the atmosphere is concerned.

About about 13,500 cars annually by the NAB alone, in fact. The NAB has announced that they are now proudly carbon neutral, savings of around 60,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per annum since 2006 through efficiency and effectively taking 13,500 cars, annually.

I checked out their website to find out more, and liked the new design -- it's bold and clean. In the equally bold headline they announce they're "proudly carbon neutral". Good on them, they deserve to be proud - they are the first bank to go carbon neutral. Not a bank of the future, but a bank for the future. Anyway, NAB have now given me something more to consider in a new bank, next time I get pissed off at my current bank's more opportunistic fees regime.


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