Protecting Our Environment - Corporate Sustainability | Ulster Bank


Making a difference for our environment

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.

Our ambition is to be the leading bank in Ireland helping to address the climate challenge by making our own operations net carbon zero in 2020 and climate positive by 2025, and by driving material reductions in the climate impact of our financing activity. We are setting ourselves the challenge to at least halve the climate impact of our financing activity by 2030, and intend to do what is necessary to achieve alignment with the Paris Agreement.

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:

Equator Principles


As a subsidiary of NatWest Group, Ulster Bank have signed up to the Equator Principles (EPs) – a risk management framework for determining, assessing and managing environmental and social risk in projects, which provides a minimum standard for due diligence and monitoring to support responsible risk decision-making. We will not provide project finance to borrowers who cannot comply with the EPs

Business In The Community Low Carbon Pledge


Ulster Bank has also signed the Low Carbon Pledge with Business in the Community Ireland, setting us a target of reducing our Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emission intensity by 50% by 2030. This pledge is aligned with NatWest Group's bank-wide commitment to reduce the environmental impact of serving our customers, which targets four key areas: carbon emissions, waste generation, water and paper use.


UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Principles for Responsible Banking


In 2019, Royal Bank of Scotland, including Ulster Bank, became one of the Founding Signatories of the UNEP Principles for Responsible Banking, committing to strategically align its business with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The six principles provide the framework for a sustainable banking system and help the industry to demonstrate how it makes a positive contribution to society.

The Climate Group RE100, EV100 and EP100 initiatives


Royal Bank of Scotland, including Ulster Bank, was jointly the first company globally to commit to all three of the Climate Group’s business action initiatives pledging to:

  • Use only renewable electricity in our direct global operations by 2025 (RE100).
  • Install electric vehicle charging infrastructure in more than 600 spaces across our UK & Irish portfolio by 2030 (EV100).
  • Upgrade our job car fleet of around 300 vehicles to electric models by 2025 (EV100).
  • Reduce our energy consumption 40% by 2025 against its 2015 baseline (EP100).


Energy lending policies


As part of NatWest Group, we have strict energy lending policies, meaning Ulster Bank in Ireland will not provide project specific finance to:

  • New coal fired power stations
  • New thermal coal mines
  • Oil sands projects
  • Arctic oil projects
  • Unsustainable vegetation or peatland clearance projects


We will also not provide finance to:

  • Mining companies generating more than 40% of their revenues from thermal coal (a reduction from 65%).
  • Power companies generating more than 40% of their electricity from coal (a reduction from 65%).


Operational Footprint

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.

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