Reducing the carbon footprint of our own operations is a vital element of our Group sustainability strategy.

We have now announced three new operational climate pledges which will accelerate our plan to tackle climate change:

  • We will achieve net zero carbon operations by 2030. We plan to reduce our direct carbon emissions (known as Scope 1 and 2 emissions) by at least 75% (compared to 2018/2019 levels).
  • We will reduce our total energy consumption by 50% by 2030 (compared to 2018/2019). Whilst we already procure renewable electricity, it remains crucial that we reduce the amount of power we consume to support the UK in meeting an increasing demand for renewable energy.
  • We will maintain travel emissions below 50% of pre-Covid-19 (2018/2019) levels, embedding for the long term the reduced levels of commuting and business travel emissions seen during the pandemic, and supporting our colleagues to switch to low carbon modes of transport.

To achieve these challenging goals, we will be investing in our buildings; continuing to deploy energy efficiency technology, including LED lighting and improved building controls. We will remove all use of natural gas from our estate, replacing our gas boilers with zero carbon heating technologies, and create low carbon branches in communities across the UK. Many of the technologies we will need to use are still new, and we will work closely with our partners and supply chain to innovate.

We have also joined the UK Green Buildings Council Net Zero Buildings Commitment. Their Net Zero framework underpins our new pledges, along with the commitments we’ve already made by joining The Climate Group’s campaigns on renewable electricity (RE100), energy productivity (EP100) and electric vehicles (EV100).
 

Our wider operational sustainability programme focuses on environmental impacts such as operational waste, water consumption and improving biodiversity, where we aim to:

  • Reduce our operational waste by 80% by 2025, from a 2014/2015 baseline.
  • Reduce water consumption by 40% by 2030, from a 2009 baseline.

 

Watch this short video to see some of the changes we've made over the past year to help reduce our impact on the environment.

  • Our new energy reduction pledge

    We will reduce our total energy consumption by 50% by 2030 (compared to 2018/2019). Whilst we already procure zero carbon electricity, it remains crucial that we reduce the amount of power we consume to support the UK in meeting an increasing demand for renewable energy.
     

    What does this mean?

    What's included?

    This goal relates to the energy we use (measured in kWh) to power and heat our buildings and includes our use of electricity, gas, and oil.

    What will happen to our energy consumption by 2030?

      Whilst we already procure zero carbon electricity, it remains crucial that we reduce the amount of power we consume to support the UK in meeting an increasing demand for renewable energy.

      By 2030, we will reduce our consumption of energy by 50% compared to 2018/2019. 

      This goal is aligned to the reduction in energy-related carbon emissions set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in order to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees.


    Our energy reduction plan

    1. We will continue with our energy optimisation programme, which is being delivered by energy managers across our estate.
    2. We will accelerate our investment in energy efficiency, installing LED lighting in our branches and offices as well as replacing and improving building management systems. We’ll also build awareness with our colleagues and suppliers via energy management behavioural campaigns.
    3. We will test new ideas and innovative technologies, collaborating with our partners and suppliers to deliver transformational clean energy solutions across our estate. 
       

    Our progress during 2020

    In 2020 we continued to reduce the energy use in our properties and worked with our supply chain to implement energy saving solutions. 

    What happened to our energy consumption during Covid-19?

    Our energy consumption reduced by 8.7% compared to 2018/9. In the six months prior to Covid-19 restrictions, a 3.9% energy consumption reduction was delivered, largely as a result of our ongoing energy optimisation activity. Covid-19 resulted in a relatively small reduction in energy consumption, related to buildings being closed, operating at lower capacities, and with reduced opening times.


    In 2020, we have:

    • Continued our energy optimisation programme, resulting in a 105 GWh saving in 2020
    • Worked with our supply chain to test different LED solutions across our offices and branches. Our programme will continue throughout 2021 and we plan to upgrade lighting across our entire branch network in the coming years. 
    • Became members of the Climate Group’s EP100 campaign, confirming our commitment to improving energy productivity through our use of the UK Green Building Council’s Net Zero Buildings framework. 


    2020 performance against our previously published goals (more detail can be found in our ESG report):

    Target

    Baseline (2009)

    2020 performance

    Reduction from baseline

    50% reduction in energy consumption by 2030

    957 GWh

    504 GWh

    64%

    Overachievement is mainly due to ongoing energy reduction measures in buildings.

    In 2020 our energy consumption reduced by 8.7% compared to 2019 and in the six months prior to Covid-19 restrictions, a 3.9% energy consumption reduction had already achieved. Covid-19 resulted in a relatively minimal impact due to our branches, data centres and many of our office buildings remaining operational throughout 2020. In addition, due to our reporting period (Oct19-Sept20), we are reporting mainly warmer months where CV-19 restrictions were in place, we therefore expect to see changes to our gas consumption in next year’s reporting when we will be accounting for periods of restrictions during colder months.

  • Our new travel pledge

    We will maintain travel emissions below 50% of pre-Covid-19 (2018/2019) levels, embedding for the long term the reduced levels of commuting and business travel emissions seen during the pandemic, and supporting our colleagues to switch to low carbon modes of transport.
     

    What does this mean?

    What's included?

    This metric includes the emissions relating to commuting and business travel activity (covering flights, car journeys, hotel stays, taxis, buses and underground/overground rail trips).

    What will happen to our travel emissions over the next decade?

    We plan to maintain a much lower level of travel once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, and this new goal means we intend never to exceed 50% of our pre-Covid-19 travel emissions. 

    This reduction is aligned to the reduction in transportation-related carbon emissions set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in order to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees.

    How are commuting emissions measured?

    We measure our commuting emissions through our annual colleague survey. Each year we ask colleagues how they travel to work, and combine this with their distance from work to calculate their emissions.

    In 2020, we asked colleagues to describe their commuting habits both pre- and post-Covid-19 restrictions being implemented to ensure our measurement reflected the change in commuting activity seen during 2020.

    How are business travel emissions measured?

    Using data from our business trip booking system, and our colleagues’ travel expenses claims, we apply emissions factors published by the government to each journey to calculate the carbon emissions.


    Our travel reduction plan

    1. We have launched a carbon footprint calculator to support our colleagues to explore the environmental impact of both their business and personal travel choices and provide offers and engagement programmes to help them switch to greener modes of travel. 
    2. We will embed new ways of working developed during the pandemic, developing a new mindset around business travel where colleagues travel with purpose, to connect and collaborate. 
    3. We will continue with our programme of work to improve cycling facilities for colleagues, seeking Cycle Friendly Employer accreditation from Cycling UK at each of our main offices. 
    4. We will launch a new Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV) salary sacrifice scheme for colleagues and continue with our rollout of electric vehicle charging points across our car parks.
       

    Our progress during 2020

    During 2020 we developed plans to support our colleagues to switch to low carbon modes of transport, focussing on transforming our buildings to provide facilities for safe and sustainable travel. 

    What happened to travel emissions during Covid-19?

    In the environmental reporting year October 2019 to September 2020, our travel emissions reduced by just under 50%, achieved largely due to Covid-19 travel restrictions in place from late March 2020.


    In 2020 we have: 

    • Invested in sustainable travel facilities across 14 sites, investing in new cycle racks, bicycle maintenance stands, e-bike charging stations and electric vehicle (EV) charging points.
    • We have now installed over 90 EV charging points at 30 of our sites, meaning over 28,000 of our colleagues have access to EV charging at work, at no cost to them. 
    • Joined the Climate Group’s EV100 campaign, making a commitment to install charging points across our colleague car parks by 2030. We currently have EV facilities at 55% of our office carparks
    • Achieved Cycling UK's 'Cycle Friendly Employer' accreditation at three of our offices, and we're on track to receive accreditation at a further 11 locations in 2021.


    2020 performance against our previously published goals (more detail can be found in our ESG report):

    Target

    Baseline (2009)

    2020 performance

    Reduction from baseline

    60% reduction in business travel related CO2e by 2030

    76,067 tonnes

    7,508 tonnes

    85%

    Significant reduction had been achieved early in our 2020; by March 2020, 68% reduction in business travel emissions had already been realised (historic scope), however CV-19 restrictions pushed further overachievement to 85% of 2009 baseline. In 2020, business travel emissions reduced by 19,335 tonnes compared to 2019, a YOY reduction of 62.5%.

  • Reducing the volumes of the waste we produce and minimising what we send to landfill is a key part of our strategy. We aim to reduce operational waste by 80% by 2025, compared to 2014/5. 


    In 2020 we have:

    • Reviewed our use of paper following pilots in 2019, with a 55% reduction in paper use realised in the first month. In 2021, we’ll work to embed the paper-free behaviours adopted during the pandemic.
    • Continued our Business in the Community Waste to Wealth Commitment by committing to reduce waste, improve our waste management processes, and engage with our colleagues.
    • Achieved certification for the Carbon Trust Standard for Waste for the first time. The Carbon Trust Standard for Waste recognises organisations that follow best practice in measuring, managing, and reducing their waste impact.
         

    Target

    Baseline (2014/15)

    2020 performance

    Reduction from baseline

    80% reduction in total operational waste by 2025

    20,831 tonnes

    8,053 tonnes

    61%

    In 2020, we produced 59.2% less operational waste compared to 2014/2015, and a 38.1% reduction year-to-year. This year, our recycling rate is 77% and we diverted 93% of our waste from landfill. Whilst an achievement of 47.6% reduction in operational waste was seen before April 2020 (compared to 2014/2015), Covid-19 restrictions have resulted in a significant reduction in waste, due to much lower occupancies in our offices as many of our colleagues work from home. 

  • We aim to reduce water consumption by 40% by 2030, from a 2009 baseline.


    In 2020 we have:

    • Installed automatic metering at 22 of our sites, allowing us to monitor and manage water consumption more effectively
    • Implemented water saving technology in two large offices, which have the potential to reduce water use in those offices by up to 84% 

    Target

    Baseline (2009)

    2020 performance

    Reduction from baseline

    40% reduction in water consumption by 2030

    1,349,029 m3

    939,845 m3

    30%

    In 2020, water consumption reduced by 30.3% compared to the 2009 baseline. A significant reduction is due to the impact of Covid-19; a 3% year on year reduction was seen before April 2020 and as at the end of September 2020, a 21.2% reduction was seen compared to last year. This is largely a result of our offices operating at lower capacities due to many of our colleagues working from home.

  • In 2020 we worked with The Wildlife Trusts at three test sites to support the re-establishment of resilient UK wildlife habitats to benefit diverse local flora and fauna by adopting a more sustainable approach to the management of our property estate. Initiatives included planting wildflower meadows, bee-friendly pollinators, and implementing reduced mowing and pruning regimes to create wildlife corridors. 

    In 2021 we plan to carry out surveys at a further 14 sites and will continue to implement biodiversity measures to benefit local wildlife. 

Our new operational carbon pledge

We will achieve net zero carbon operations by 2030. We plan to reduce our direct carbon emissions (known as Scope 1 and 2 emissions) by at least 75% (compared to 2018/2019 levels)
 

What does this mean? 

What's included?

 

This goal relates to our direct, operational emissions, often referred to as Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. 

Scope 1 – emissions which are produced directly from the fuels we burn. For us, this covers the natural gas used in our boilers to heat our branches, offices and data centres, the refrigerant gases used in our air conditioning systems, and the small amount of oil used in our back-up generators. It also includes the exhaust emissions from the cars and mobile branches in our fleet. 

Scope 2 – these are emissions which produce the electricity we consume in our buildings. We measure them using the ‘market based’ approach, which means we calculate them according to the type of electricity that we buy. Because we use 100% renewable electricity across our global operations, our Scope 2 emissions are reduced to zero.

What will happen to our carbon emissions by 2030?

 

  • By 2030 we will reduce these emissions by at least 75% compared to our baseline year of 2018/2019.
  • This reduction is greater than the required reduction in carbon emissions set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in order to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees. 
  • In 2030 we will purchase carbon credits to offset the remainder of our direct emissions. We intend to use certified offsets from high quality carbon removal projects. 


Our carbon reduction plan

  1. We will continue to purchase 100% renewable electricity across our global operations, and will work towards our goal to increase the percentage of our electricity sourced directly from renewable developments (via Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs)).
  2. We will eliminate the use of natural gas in our buildings by 2030, replacing gas boilers with alternative heating systems such as heat pumps. 
  3. We will improve our air conditioning systems, switching to more energy efficient models using less harmful refrigerant gases. We expect to have some refrigerant emissions remaining in 2030, and we will offset these using certified carbon removals. 
  4. Having already closed our managers’ company car scheme in 2019, we now provide Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV) as standard for colleagues who require a car to perform their job. By 2030 all our vehicles will be electric.
     

Our progress during 2020

In 2020 we continued to reduce the carbon intensity of our properties, disclosed more of our carbon emissions, and delivered initiatives to support our colleagues to live, work and travel more sustainably. 

What happened to our carbon emissions during COVID-19?

Our operational carbon emissions (Scope 1 and 2, measured using the market based method) fell by 9,524 tonnes, a 19.6% reduction, compared to 2018/9. During Covid-19 the majority of our branches, data centres and some of our office buildings remained operational, albeit with reduced hours and lower capacity, resulting in only minimal reductions relating to Covid-19 on our operational carbon emissions. A 10.2% reduction was delivered before April 2020, (compared to 2018/2019). The large year-on-year reduction is mostly due to ongoing energy reduction measures, reduced fleet travel and an improvement in the accuracy of our refrigerant gas data collection method. 


In 2020, we have: 

  • Continued to purchase 100% renewable electricity across our global operations:
    - In August 2020, the Climate Group confirmed that we had met our RE100 goal of 100% renewable electricity, the first UK bank to do so.
    - We are focussed on our further RE100 commitment to increase the proportion of electricity sourced via renewables projects, via Power Purchase Agreements or onsite generation, to at least 60% by 2025 
  • Expanded the measurement of our carbon footprint and are now disclosing more of our Scope 3 (indirect) emissions, including the emissions associated with: managing the waste from our buildings; our colleagues commuting to work (in addition to all elements of business travel already included); and our colleagues working from home. In October 2020, we sponsored a White Paper to help other companies do the same. 
  • Helped colleagues make more sustainable choices at home by launching a new collection of Sustainable Living colleague offers. These deals included special deals on renewable electricity tariffs and smart heating thermostats, to help colleagues reduce their household carbon emissions. 
  • Proudly remained Carbon Trust Standard certification holders for carbon reduction for the eleventh year. The Carbon Trust Standard recognises organisations that follow best practice in measuring, managing, and reducing their environmental impact.
     

2020 performance against our previously published goals (more detail can be found in our ESG report):

Target

Baseline (2009)

2020 performance

Reduction from baseline

60% reduction in location-based CO2e by 2030

80% reduction in location-based CO2e by 2050

562,845 tonnes (location-based)

 

159,487 tonnes (location-based)

 

72%

 

Overachievement is mainly due to ongoing energy reduction measures in buildings and significantly reduced business travel. 2020 saw significant impacts from Covid-19, most notably travel restrictions which significantly reduced our business travel emissions. Compared to April-September 2019, we saw 13,447 tonnes fewer business travel emissions.

Most of our branches, data centres and some of our office buildings remained operational throughout 2020, albeit with reduced hours and lower capacity, resulting in only minimal reductions relating to Covid-19 (operational carbon emissions, Scope 1 and 2, fell by 9,524 tonnes (19.6%) compared to last year, yet 10.2% reduction was already delivered before April 2020. 

Working with our supply chain


Through our code of supplier responsibility we will encourage our suppliers to:

  • Ensure that tackling climate change is embedded within the strategy and governance of the organisation including measuring their organisation’s environmental impact with plans in place to reduce these impacts.
  • Collaborate with us to help us reduce our environmental impacts.
  • Understand and mitigate the risks that climate change poses to their business.
  • Understand the ethical and sustainability-related practices of their supply chain in order to either collaborate on best practice or offer support on improvements where appropriate.

Additional information on our climate pledges

Frequently asked questions
 

  • It is good practice to use the most recent year as a baseline when setting new targets, however the impact of Covid-19 on our emissions has led us to use a more representative year as a baseline. 

    Our environmental reporting years run from 1 October to 30 September, and we are using the most recent pre-Covid-19 representative year as a baseline.

  • With around two-thirds of our colleagues working from home during the pandemic, our travel-related carbon emissions reduced significantly in 2020. We recognised the need to balance this reduction against the additional household emissions generated by colleagues working from home.

    We have now calculated and disclosed these emissions as part of our annual environmental reporting.

    We sponsored a White Paper in October 2020 in order to support organisations to navigate the challenge of measuring homeworking emissions. The document, written in partnership with EcoAct and NatWest Group, defines a simple process for organisations to use to calculate emissions of colleagues working from home, and has been downloaded over 1,000 times. 

  • In 2020 we set an ambitious goal to work with our customers, Government and the market to help reduce the emissions we finance by more than 50% by 2030. We have extended this ambition to reduce the emissions we finance to net zero by 2050. For more information on this please see this page.

  • Our operational pledges were developed with the support of The Carbon Trust. Our operational commitments follow the reduction pathways needed to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees and are aligned to the requirements of the Science Based Targets Initiative.