Liberty calls on financial services to cut carbon emissions together

15 October 2008 Liberty Group Ltd

Liberty Group called on companies in the financial services industry to work together on the task of reducing carbon emissions. The wealth management company simultaneously pledged to share all learnings on carbon footprint analysis after completing its own pioneering study on the subject.

Liberty Executive Audrey Mothupi (pictured) said industry competitors had showed their willingness to collaborate on issues of shared concern through their work on black economic empowerment and the pursuit of targets set out in the Financial Sector Charter.

“Working together to reach environmental targets is a logical progression,” added Mothupi. “The social benefit will be multiplied while some costs and duplication can be avoided.

“Our carbon footprint analysis last year moved us some way along the learning curve and we would be happy to share those learnings with like-minded industry players.”

Liberty gained a sector lead by commissioning a study to establish its carbon emissions as a baseline before launching a groupwide effort to identify possible savings and set specific targets.

Key findings included:

  • 2 285 tonnes of CO² were emitted by company-owned vehicles in 2007;
  • 41 088 tonnes of CO² were emitted as a result of electricity consumed by the insurance operations;
  • 985 tonnes of CO² were emitted as a result of business travel.

Since completing its study, Liberty has launched initiatives to reduce power and water consumption and curtail paper usage. In interaction with customers, it makes increasing use of policy statements in email form and prefers to use online formats in its communication with financial advisers.

In addition, the group has begun incorporating ‘green’ design features in all its new buildings.

In the realm of waste management, measurements at Liberty’s Braamfontein head offices indicated that 264 tonnes of compactable waste was created in 2007, plus 76 tonnes of wet waste and 672 tonnes of loose waste. Various other waste categories took the total annual waste total to 1 243,47 tonnes.

Mothupi noted: “Financial service companies are not manufacturers. We are not responsible for toxic spillage. We don’t foul the air because of inefficient industrial processes. We don’t threaten animal and plant life.

“Yet our carbon footprint analysis indicates that considerable amounts of carbon and waste are generated by everyday commercial operations. It was an eye-opener for us. We believe that as other financial service companies complete studies such as this they will become aware that even apparently benign operations can have significant impact on the environment.

“At Liberty we recognise a duty to measure, mitigate and ameliorate. We believe our peers in the industry will reach similar conclusions and hope they will join us in a wide-ranging effort to contain the sector’s carbon footprint, save energy and reduce waste.

“If we work together, we’ll succeed together.”

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