13 March, 2020

Westpac announces range of initiatives to grow a greener, healthier New Zealand

Westpac NZ has become New Zealand’s first carbonzero certified bank, and announced a range of new products, initiatives and milestones to help our customers and our business tackle climate change.

It includes measures aimed at improving New Zealand’s housing stock, reducing the country’s carbon footprint and supporting businesses to reduce climate impact.

Key features of today’s announcement include:

  •    Westpac becoming New Zealand’s first Toitū carbonzero certified bank, meaning we’ve been assessed as carbon neutral by a third party verification process.
  •    New interest-free loans of up to $10,000, known as Westpac Warm Up, for Westpac home loan customers to improve energy efficiency through the purchase of heat pumps, solar panels, ventilation, double glazing or insulation.
  •    Transitioning 100% of our car fleet to Electric Vehicles by 2025.
  •    Committing to a further 30% reduction in our own emissions, on top of the 50% reduction since we started measuring our emissions in 2008.

Westpac NZ Chief Executive David McLean says big businesses like Westpac NZ have a duty to take action on important social, economic and environmental issues like climate change.

“We think climate change is the biggest environmental issue we face, and is a very real threat to our economy and wellbeing,” Mr McLean says.

“New Zealand needs to accelerate its response to climate change. We know from expert research we previously commissioned that taking action now will reduce the cost and impact of climate change in the future and ensure a better New Zealand for future generations.

81% of people are concerned about climate change, according to a recent nationally representative survey of more than a thousand New Zealanders, commissioned by Westpac and carried out by my2cents.

88% agree that businesses should do more to lower their carbon footprint.

Mr McLean says big businesses should lead the way on environmental issues, and being carbonzero certified is only one part of the puzzle.

“That’s why we’re committed to offering products and services that can cut our customers’ costs and their carbon footprint.

“Our new Westpac Warm Up loan offering is one way we can help New Zealanders make their home more energy-efficient, while also improving the quality of our housing stock for future generations.”

As well as reducing its own emissions, Westpac has provided $1.6b in lending to businesses providing climate change solutions, and has a target to lend $2b by October 2020.

“We have an important role in the transition to a cleaner economy through our lending,” Mr McLean says.

“We have reduced our lending exposure to fossil fuel mining and production by 61% since 2012, and we are the only bank in New Zealand to transparently publish these figures. Any new lending must meet strict lending criteria, including that it is consistent with transitioning to a net zero carbon economy in line with the Paris climate agreement.”

Westpac NZ General Manager of Experience Hub, Karen Silk, says the Westpac Warm Up loan is an example of businesses helping their customers to help the environment.

“Our research clearly shows Kiwis are becoming increasingly aware of climate risks and the need for healthier, more energy-efficient homes,” Ms Silk says.

“We recognise there’s much more we can do. However by taking these actions, we hope we can support other businesses to follow our lead and think what they can do to help build a more sustainable and prosperous New Zealand.”

ENDS

my2cents was commissioned by Westpac NZ to conduct research into public attitudes to climate change. It surveyed 1,023 people between 18 and 27 September 2019 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.


Editor’s note: key details of today’s announcement

  •    Westpac has become New Zealand’s first bank to be certified Toitū carbonzero, meaning that we actively reduce all our emissions, and offset the remainder, by purchasing New Zealand native permanent forestry carbon credits. We have a target to further reduce our carbon footprint to be in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5˚C ambition, by reducing air travel, improving energy-efficiency in offices and branches, and converting our vehicle fleet to EVs. The Toitū carbonzero certification process was overseen by Toitū Envirocare in line with international standards and best practice.
  •    Introducing Westpac Warm Up, an interest-free loan of up to $10,000 for Westpac home loan customers to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Homeowners can purchase heat pumps, solar panels, double glazing, ventilation or insulation, to help make their home warmer, drier and healthier, and potentially reduce their energy bills. The interest-free loan has a maximum term of five years.
  •    Transitioning 100% of our vehicle fleet to EVs by 2025. We first added three electric vehicles (EVs) in late 2016 before converting 30% of our fleet by October 2019. These vehicles will eventually make their way into the used car market, making EVs more affordable for the public.