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Carbon footprint report kickstarts Conister Bank’s pathway to improve

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Carbon footprint report kickstarts Conister Bank’s pathway to improve



 

Conister Bank is mapping out a pathway to reduce its carbon footprint.

To read the article on  Isle of Man Portfolio click here

The bank, which recently celebrated 85 years at the heart of the Isle of Man community, engaged a consultant to review, measure and suggest ways to improve the bank’s environmental, social and governance performance.

Now Conister Bank is acting upon the findings of the report.

Managing Director Douglas Grant said: ‘We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint and increasing our sustainability, as a business, and to help our clients achieve the same.

‘Commissioning the report into our carbon footprint was an important starting point and now we have the results, it underlines how much we need to do.’

The report revealed that Conister Bank’s total carbon emissions in 2019 was 135.9 tonnes – the equivalent to the average annual energy use in 40 homes or driving 350,000 miles in an average size car.

The biggest contributor to those emissions came from business flights and car use – accounting for just below 73% – with electricity purchased the next highest category at under 16%.

Douglas said: ‘In some respects, the figures are difficult to grasp. When you realise your footprint is the equivalent of 40 homes for a year, it really strikes you the impact of flights, travel and the use of the office itself.

‘What this report has done is, it has clarified our thinking on not just the environmental impact of running this business, but also on the steps we can take to move the bank in a positive direction.

‘Now we have a baseline and a plan on how we can reduce these amounts.’

Not surprisingly, figures were down in 2020, with an 88% reduction in flight-related carbon emissions. While the pandemic was the clear reason behind this, it also demonstrated there may be opportunities for the business to reduce flight-related emissions, as well as costs.

The report sets a target for Conister Bank of reducing the 2019 emissions figure by 42% by 2029, which would see its carbon footprint reduce by 57.1 tonnes.

Such a reduction would align the bank positively with the Isle of Man Government’s stated target of net zero emissions by 2050.

To achieve these reductions, Conister Bank has set up a team to examine carbon saving opportunities, such as reducing the number of flights; organising more video conferences; encouraging both its suppliers and portfolio to promote sustainability; encouraging active travel to work when working from home is not practicable; promoting energy saving and re-cycling in the workplace; vehicle sharing; decarbonising its and its staff’s vehicles and the setting and reporting against agreed annual targets.

The report also found that Conister Bank was already heading in the right direction in several aspects.

For instance, using Green Building Council Real Estate Energy Benchmarks for air-conditioned UK offices, Conister Bank’s office in Douglas performs better than a typical UK office. That said, the report believed there is scope to improve energy efficiency further.

Douglas added: ‘What this report has done is clarify what we need to do and provide us with an idea of how to do it.

‘It has opened our eyes to aspects of carbon emissions that we were not aware of and where easy wins can be achieved, such as what hotels we stay in when on business travel. For instance, the average carbon emission of a London hotel is more than the carbon emission of a hotel in the countryside.

‘I did not have any pre-ingrained thoughts as to what good looks like, there are no ‘model’ banks we can reference but that does not mean you do nothing – quite the opposite, assessing your own carbon footprint is possibly the most important first step you can take, it shows where your starting position is, and it will also provide ideas for where you can improve. But I know there is a lot more that we can do. This fits in with the company’s Green Finance Strategy, unveiled earlier this year.

Last year was difficult for everyone and every business.  Conister stood up supported the Island both on its own and through the government support schemes.  And now the bank is pledging its commitment to a sustainable future for itself and the businesses and customers it supports.

It will provide financial options to businesses and individual customers to support an environmental, sustainable, and resilient future.

Conister Bank will promote sustainability, both in the working practices at its Douglas offices and in encouraging other businesses to follow suit and aims to be an active participant in reducing the environmental impact of how we live and work.

Douglas said: ‘We may not be able to change the world on our own but we can make a difference.’

And the drive towards sustainability makes good sense – for our staff, for Conister Bank for our customers, and for our community.

Douglas said: ‘Running a profitable business and running a sustainable business are not two aims at loggerheads with each other.’

It is a message that Conister Bank will be passing on to its clients, as it encourages them to look at their own operations.

As an independent institution, Conister Bank has the flexibility to tailor its services and products to the needs of its clients and that applies to its Green Finance Strategy.

A key component of achieving the bank’s aims will be to try to make things more straightforward for those looking to work towards a better future.

The bank wants to ‘cut through the noise’ and help businesses that want to improve their own green status. So, as well as supporting the Manx Government on any of its large scale projects, the bank will assist in more specific ways for its customers.

That will include removing hurdles that have cropped up in other jurisdictions, avoiding problems such as grant schemes for home energy improvements that have suffered delays because potential recipients were required to show a significant reduction in costs before any grant would be paid out to fund the work in question.

Conister Bank’s Green Finance Strategy aims to make the bank be part of the solution. The coronavirus pandemic has seen a shift in how businesses work and provided the opportunity for greater focus on sustainability – Conister Bank aims to help businesses and individuals achieve that.

That means a commitment to help finance the transfer to net-zero carbon in the future, both through support schemes and increasing awareness throughout its customer base.

Previously, Conister Bank had pledged to reduce its carbon footprint by 15% within three years. It will measure the environmental impact, social impact, and governance of its services and provide financial options to local businesses and home-owners to support them secure an environmental, sustainable, and resilient future and growth via renewable energy.

New products will be launched to enable consumers to make the switch to a more energy-efficient operation, covering a range of opportunities including retrofit funding for home and business owners, investment in renewables, and recycling initiatives.

Conister Bank’s commitment to sustainability reflects its position at the centre of the Manx community. Last year saw Conister Bank celebrate its 85th anniversary in business, originally starting under the name Conister Trust.

It has been a constant and reassuring Manx presence in times of crisis, ranging from the Second World War to the current global pandemic. As an illustration of its business leader role in the community, last year Conister Bank set aside £10 million to provide loans of up to £500,000 for businesses negatively impacted by Covid-19 and the cancellation of the TT.

‘At Conister Bank, we have always felt a responsibility to the community we serve, whether it be dealing with the impact of the pandemic or helping to build a better future,’ said Douglas. As well as committing to the Green Finance and renewables industry the bank will improve its lending proposition.

Douglas said: ‘The customer has always been central to everything we do and these steps we are taking with action on our carbon footprint and the introduction of our Green Finance Strategy are a continuation of that.

‘It is our business, and in our interest, to find products that work for our clients and our community. ‘We cannot change the entire world but we can certainly change how we act and how we influence others.’

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