Bank achieves CEMARS certification

Monday, 22 December, 2008

Westpac New Zealand Ltd has achieved a milestone in sustainability by achieving Certified Emissions Measurement and Reduction Scheme (CEMARS) certification as part of its strategy to reduce its carbon footprint. Over 30,000 organisations worldwide are seeking CEMARS certification.

Developed for the measurement and management of an organisation’s carbon footprint or greenhouse gas emissions profile by top environmental scientists at Crown Research Institute, Landcare Research, CEMARS is accredited by the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ).

“CEMARS has established itself as the most credible carbon footprinting tool available worldwide,” Westpac’s Acting Chief Executive Bruce McLachlan said.

“Importantly, CEMARS is also aligned with Westpac’s philosophy of focusing first on emissions reduction before considering offsetting.

“At Westpac, sustainability is a core component of our culture and our corporate strategy and we are committed to minimising our direct environmental impact.

“Despite the fact we’re operating in a voluntary market we felt it was important to take the first step in our transition to a low carbon business and measure the full scope of our carbon emissions across our head office and national branch network.

“We chose CEMARS to assist us with understanding the impact our business operations have on the environment and where we could make the biggest changes.

“From here we worked with all business units to develop an ambitious, yet achievable, reduction plan that includes a target of reducing our total emissions by 20% per active customer by 2012,” McLachlan said.

“CEMARS gives organisations like Westpac the framework to measure and manage their carbon footprint and make a legitimate carbon claim," Mike Tournier, Business Manager for Landcare Research, said.

“We hope others in the banking and financial services industry will rise to the challenge set by Westpac and take steps to measure and reduce their carbon emissions.”

Westpac has detailed its strategy for actively reducing its emissions intensity — or emissions per active customer. 

Westpac New Zealand’s current carbon footprint is 14,059 tonnes of CO2e, which is made up of: electricity and gas usage; car fleet; air travel; paper usage; other vehicle use; waste to landfill; and New Zealand hotel accommodation.

By including paper in its greenhouse gas inventory, Westpac has voluntarily expanded its carbon footprint scope. McLachlan says Westpac is the only bank in Australasia to report on paper usage.

“It’s about disclosing an honest appraisal of where your business has a major environmental impact. For the banking and financial services industry, paper is still unfortunately a significant contributor," McLachlan said.

“Increasingly our customers are banking online, which is encouraging, but there is still a portion of banking that requires paper use such as cheques, statements and deposit slips."

McLachlan says the bank’s focus on emissions intensity enables the bank to balance its focus on emissions reduction with economic growth, whether that’s organic or by acquisition.

Outline of Westpac’s emissions intensity:

  • Active customer numbers as at 30 June 2008 — 1,167,060;
  • Base line CO2e per active customer — 12 kg;
  • Proposing a target of 9.3 kg in 2012 (Kyoto commitment period);
  • This will represent a 20% reduction on FY08;
  • Based on achieving 2% customer growth pa cumulative and achieving a 16% reduction in total emissions.
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