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Nedbank, the Green Trust and climate change

Climate change and environmental sustainability are key focus areas for Nedbank and the Green Trust. All projects supported directly or indirectly help adapt to or combat climate change.

  • “You can’t afford to be slow in an emergency. Act now for the planet,” is the World Wildlife Fund’s urgent call to reduce carbon emissions. No longer an alarmist cry, it is now essential that every country in the world reduce its carbon footprint to help ensure that the global average temperature rise remains below 2°C. Runaway climate change and its threat of mass species extinction is likely to be the result if we exceed two degrees. The South African government has made a commitment to a national policy and programme response to climate change. It indicates that everything we do now has to be environmentally aware. In support of South Africa’s commitment the Green Trust has financed a three-year national climate change policy and outreach project. One of the mandates of the project is to offer input on the following strategies and policies of the environmental affairs department: the National Strategy for Sustainable Development, the National Green Economy Strategy and the National Climate Change Response Policy. “In Africa one of the greatest problems linked to climate change is going to be a shortage of clean water. Water, we well know, is life and water issues have a direct effect on agricultural yields. When agricultural yields drop, food security is threatened,” says the Green Trust’s leader on climate change and the WWF’s national climate change officer, Louise Naudé. In addition to the national climate change and outreach project, the Green Trust is financing several community-based conservation and education projects aimed at conserving ecosystems and threatened resources such as water, all of which help to combat climate change. “Everything we do from now has to be conscious of the environment,” says Naudé.
  • Solving climate change problems. “This is one of the most exciting eras to face the African continent: one in which so many problems associated with climate change can be solved simultaneously,” says Kevin Whitfield, the head of carbon at Nedbank Capital. “Energy problems, health problems, development problems, all can be solved through sound renewable-energy initiatives on a national scale and, at the same time, we are saving the natural environment.” Summarising the situation, Whitfield says: “Africa is long on junk and short on power. There is an obvious opportunity here to rethink how we can use waste to generate power. To this end we are increasing our activity throughout the African continent. Suitable projects that the green bank can monetise on the African continent are being identified, including renewable energy, waste-to-energy and energy-efficiency initiatives and technologies, which either offset or reduce the carbon footprint. It’s inspiring to be involved in these initiatives and it is a privilege to be part of this magnitude of change.”
  • Good, clean carbon credits. Nedbank, the only bank in South Africa to go carbon neutral, has offset its carbon emissions with a multimillion-rand forest conservation and community upliftment deal in the Kasigau Wildlife Corridor in Kenya. Known as the Rukinga Deal because the Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary is in the corridor, it is the first project in Africa to receive gold-level validation under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance’s REDD Standard. The alliance sets the most rigorous global standard for ensuring that communities and biodiversity benefit from climate change projects. African indigenous forest is under constant threat as a result of human activity and climate change. The Rukinga Deal effectively proves Africa can fight climate change while uplifting rural communities and protecting wildlife by means of accessing carbon markets. South Africa and other nations can be expected to seize on the opportunities demonstrated by the Kenyan venture.
  • Nedbank announces its carbon neutral status in 2010. “Our achievement of and commitment to carbon neutrality is a highlight for Nedbank and we will continue the journey to reduce our carbon emissions and improve our greenhouse gas reporting each year,” says Brigitte Burnett, the head of sustainability within Nedbank’s enterprise governance and compliance cluster. “As South Africa’s green bank, we acknowledge that climate change is a pressing global issue requiring a cohesive response to ensure the preservation of our planet. “We embrace the huge role we at the Nedbank group play in terms of lobbying government and business in the setting of standards for carbon emissions, emission reduction and emission control.” To achieve carbon neutrality, Nedbank set strict targets for driving its carbon-reduction initiatives and offset the remainder of its emissions by investing in carbon and Green Trust projects with a social-upliftment component.

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