Carbon offsetting

What does the future look like?

We've set ourselves the challenging target of being net zero in our operations by 2040. With the help of ClimatePartner, we have achieved carbon neutral status since 2021. Follow the link to find out more about our 2022 offsetting or click on the ClimatePartner Carbon Neutral logo.

We have started to identify and measure our carbon emissions across three ‘scopes’ (areas of impact) following the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol). 2021 was our baseline year and we repeated the exercise in 2022. You can see the results in our Task Force on Climate related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) reports, on our Financial Reports Page. We’ll be measuring our progress and building a strong evidence base against this.

ClimatePartner Logo: "Climate Neutral Company -"

Carbon offsetting

People working in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo

In order to ensure that we are achieving our target of carbon neutrality, our overall emissions figure must be offset.

This is achieved by purchasing carbon credits. A carbon credit represents the certified reduction or removal of one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) from the atmosphere. Money from the purchase of the carbon credit goes towards funding a project. This will then allow the avoidance of an equivalent amount of emissions, neutralising our own operations emissions.

As a responsible business, we want to support carbon removal projects that have a positive impact on local communities as well as an environmental impact. This is why we chose to fund a hydropower project in the Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo in 2021 and a forest protection project in Columbia in 2022.

Virunga National Park Scheme FAQs

What are carbon credits?

Carbon credits are a certificate showing that a certain amount of CO2 has been captured and stored from the atmosphere. These can be bought in the Voluntary Carbon Market, where companies and private individuals who wish to protect the climate by offsetting their CO2 emissions can support carbon offset projects by purchasing carbon credits from them.

Our CO2 emissions for the year 2021 have been calculated by ClimatePartner following the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, a robust and widely adopted standard across industries. Once our carbon footprint had been finalised, to claim carbon neutrality we had to offset all our emissions. To do this, we purchased carbon credits to sequester the equivalent amount of CO2 we had emitted, thus ‘neutralising’ the impact we have had on the planet in 2021.

Do you invest in fossil fuels or other industries that may harm the environment?

No. As a mutual building society, all our reserves are held in cash with the Bank of England and therefore we do not invest in anything.

Why are we offsetting abroad instead of the UK?

Whilst our emissions are emitted in the UK, CO2 in our atmosphere is distributed evenly globally. This means we are able to support projects in other countries that can have huge benefits to their local communities above and beyond what is possible in the UK. Also, an important concept in offsetting is ‘additionality’, which essentially means without additional finance the project would not have happened. Due to the more developed nature of the UK market, the funding provided through offsetting is normally not strictly required and so doesn’t meet the rigorous standards that offsetting projects must have.

Why aren’t we planting trees?

While planting trees is undoubtedly a great thing to do, both for carbon sequestration and for enhancing biodiversity, any trees planted now will not sequester carbon indefinitely. By funding current carbon offsetting projects, such as the funding of hydropower in DR Congo, we can be sure that 100% of its emissions are being offset right now.

Will we be looking to offset more locally heading into the future?

We won’t be looking to offset more locally for the reasons given above but we will certainly continue to supplement our offsetting with other activities and donations to support our communities closer to home, just as we have always done.

What do I do if I have any other questions?

If you have any questions about what we're doing with regard to environmental sustainability, you can email our sustainability team.

A sustainable future

We recognise that carbon offsetting doesn’t solve the problems, or the root causes of climate change. Guided by our purpose, engaging our colleagues and building our understanding of risks and opportunities, we’re working hard to make changes.

So, in addition to the progress we’ve made so far, we’re constantly reviewing where we are today on our journey. We're identifying what we can do differently or better, so that we can work towards building a more sustainable future for our Members, colleagues and the communities we serve.

Baby gorilla in the Virunga Nationa Park, DRC

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