Investing in energy-savings and wind energy
Rabobank establishes climate approach in statement
The world is heating up. This will literally be a hot item on the agenda of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. Rabobank has published its Climate Statement in the run-up to the conference. 'We are accepting our responsibility by encouraging customers to use energy more efficiently and to make energy sources more sustainable', says Bas Rüter, Director of Sustainability.
Bas Rüter knows for a fact that climate change is a bitter reality. The Director of Sustainability at Rabobank refers to Rabobank customers in New Zealand, Australia, the United States and Chile who are already encountering the consequences of climate change in the form of drought, high temperatures and different rainfall patterns.
The entire world is at risk of facing these kinds of effects. In order to turn the tide, a global climate treaty will be negotiated at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris that will start on 30 November 2015. The current treaty expires in 2020.
Risk to food security
The seriousness of the climate issue is stated clearly in the Climate Statement that Rabobank published in September 2015. It states: 'Rabobank believes continuing global warming entails risks relating to the environment, food security for people and communities and hunger and poverty around the world.' Bas Rüter: 'This is an extremely important issue and that’s why it is good that we have this statement. It provides us with direction within our organisation and is something that has been called for by civil society organisations, government agencies and customers.'
Fossil energy leads to CO2 emissions
Rüter explains that climate change is clearly linked to fossil energy, such as natural gas and oil. Large amounts of fossil fuels are used for the production of goods, transportation, cooling and heating buildings, agriculture and waste processing and these activities produce the most CO2 emissions. 'A large part of the financing provided by our bank relates to sectors that lead to CO2 emissions and consequently contribute to the climate change', Rüter acknowledges. 'This is why we accept our responsibility by encouraging customers through knowledge-sharing and financial incentives to use energy more efficiently and to make energy sources more sustainable.'
Saving energy at home
Rüter explains that one way Rabobank helps bring about greater energy sustainability is by encouraging private homeowners in the Netherlands to save energy. This has led local Rabobanks to organise ‘Smart Refurbishment’ events for homeowners, many of whom are Rabobank customers. They presented around 30 of these events with an average of 200 visitors each in 2015. At these events local suppliers and contractors provide these homeowners with practical recommendations on how to save energy and consequently reduce their energy bills. There is the Dutch Energy Savings Loan with a discounted interest rate for Dutch homeowners who invest in energy savings. Rabobank is the largest financier in this field in the Netherlands.
Reducing CO2 wastage at businesses
Rabobank wants to encourage businesses to use less energy and to reduce waste flows. Minimising waste flows is imperative because materials that are not thrown away do not produce any unnecessary CO2 emissions. Local Rabobanks are working with customers in ten regions across the Netherlands to help them develop a circular economy in which business waste is recycled into raw materials as much as possible.
In the field of international agriculture, Rabobank works with customers and other partners to make environmental benefits by producing more with less fertilizer and by reducing food waste across the entire chain. Rüter: 'If we were to actually consume a larger proportion of the produced food, we would need less fertilizer and transportation. Fertilizer production and transportation consume a lot of energy.'
'If we were to actually consume a larger proportion of the produced food, we would need less fertilizer and transportation. Fertilizer production and transportation consume a lot of energy.'
Making energy sources more sustainable
Even though energy is being used more and more efficiently, also within Rabobank itself, it will still be needed now and in the future. Rüter says that’s why energy sources must become more and more sustainable. Rabobank has 3.2 billion euros in outstanding loans for renewable energy generation worldwide, which accounts for 91 percent of Rabobank’s total energy generation portfolio.
Rabobank is giving wind energy priority. It is a major financier of onshore and offshore wind turbines, holding a top-10 position worldwide and the market leader position in the United States, Canada and the Netherlands. Rüter: 'Wind energy is perfectly sustainable. While the construction and installation of wind turbines naturally lead to CO2 emissions, they are fully offset after the turbines have been operating for six months. After that the wind turbines will operate sustainably for 15 to 20 years.'