Climate, and the role we can play in accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy, is one of three key focus areas we have identified as part of our new Purpose-led strategy.
We recognise that climate change is a critical global issue that represents both financial risks and opportunities for our customers, employees, suppliers, partners and us as an organisation. Ulster Bank supports the overall objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement and environmental ambitions set by the Irish Government, along with those of our parent, NatWest Group.
We take our environmental responsibilities seriously and continually review our operations to lessen our impact on the environment. This has included reducing our operational emissions by 49% since 2014 and becoming the first bank in Ireland to achieve Zero Waste to Landfill accreditation in 2019.
We are also signed up to the following climate commitments:
Since 2014 we have reduced our operational GHG emissions (Scopes 1 & 2) by 49%, as at the end of 2019, exceeding the NatWest Group’s Science Based Target of 45% by 2020.
We have also halved our energy consumption over the same period – purchasing 100% of our energy from renewable energy sources, in line with our RE100 commitment.
Increasing our ambition to become climate positive by 2025
Along with our parent, NatWest, we have set ambitious new goals to continue our decarbonisation, aiming to be climate positive by 2025 for our own operations. This will be achieved through a combination of emissions reductions in line with a 1.5ᵒC science-based target and carbon offsetting. Whilst we understand offsetting isn’t the long term solution, we feel that it is the best way to mitigate our impact whilst we focus on eliminating our emissions at source.
In order to take our emissions to net zero in 2020 we will offset all Scope 1, 2 and 3 (business travel) emissions from our own operations through the purchase of internationally recognised carbon credits. We will maintain this level of offsetting and simultaneously reduce emissions from our own operations by a further 25% by 2025 from our 2019 baseline, so that we offset more carbon than we emit. This will move us beyond net zero to become climate positive.
We will also place more focus on our value chain, maintaining our Zero Waste to Landfill accreditation, eliminating unnecessary single-use plastics, and reducing waste by 20% by 2025.