Over the last 20 years, Westpac Group has worked to understand and address our direct and indirect environmental impacts. In New Zealand, the focus has been to consistently manage our environmental impact down. And we’ve been successful - since 2008 we have reduced our carbon footprint by more than 35% (against a target of 20% carbon dioxide emissions reduction).
Playing a significant role in our success has been our approach in getting the basics of sustainable management and operations right. By deliberately designing our internal programmes and initiatives to reduce our resource load and carbon dioxide emissions, we have set a solid platform that allows us to identify new, innovative methods to lower our carbon footprint.
For instance, to ensure we maintain carbon neutral operations, each year our carbon dioxide emissions are offset though the purchase and retirement of New Zealand Unit (NZU) carbon credits. In doing this we recognise the market costs of our emissions, leverage the business’ commercial expertise via the Commodities, Carbon and Energy trading desk and support New Zealand businesses engaged in the carbon market.
We believe that you manage what you measure, therefore we have set clear targets to manage and report externally on our operational environmental performance.
We submit our climate change management approach and environment footprint monitoring to the Carbon Disclosure Project annually. By engaging in this project we constantly challenge ourselves to do better, commit to being transparent and seek to benchmark our approach and results against the best in the field.
Our new challenge is to manage our emissions down further. Between 2015 and 2017 we have committed to reducing emissions by 4% while continuing to grow and transform our business. We will also maintain our carbon neutral status by off-setting remaining emissions.
In 2016 to enable us to understand the whole-of-life operating cost and challenges of leasing an electric vehicle, we are trailing a number of plug in electric cars as we continue to look at new ways to reduce carbon emissions. It is also enabling us to share that information with our customers and other businesses to help them make decisions.
Our new sustainable supplier code is being introduced into new agreements with our suppliers. To achieve our vision of being one of the world’s great service companies helping our customers, communities and people to prosper and grow we know we have to operate our business in a sustainable way. Similarly, we know that the sustainability of our business rests on having a sustainable and principled supply chain. Our new code embeds the bank’s sustainability objectives more deeply into our procurement processes and supplier relationships detailing our expectations and best practices we encourage.
We report on our greenhouse gas emissions, resource use and our lending to the energy sector annually through our Annual Review and Westpac New Zealand Sustainability Review.