World Environment Day is on 5 June every year – the United Nations' main initiative for encouraging awareness and action to protect our environment. This year the focus is on biodiversity – and our own work in this area has helped us achieve our aim of becoming carbon neutral in 2020.
Biodiversity is the foundation that supports all life on earth. It provides us with clean air, water and food. It also supports scientific understanding, provides medicine sources, and helps to mitigate climate change. However, human actions, including deforestation, encroachment on wildlife habitats, intensified agriculture, and acceleration of climate change, mean that ecosystems are being destroyed at an exceptional rate.
What are we doing?
Our first step is to reduce our operational emissions as much as we can – and we have long-term targets in place to do this – and then we offset what remains. We work in partnership with ClimateCare to offset our annual greenhouse gas emissions with accredited projects.
Following an employee vote in 2019, our people chose to support the Gola Rainforest project in Sierra Leone, a global biodiversity hotspot. For the next three years, we are helping to protect around 2,000 hectares of rainforest each year, which is home to the endangered pygmy hippo, critically endangered Western chimpanzee and over 330 species of bird. Our support also enables training for local farmers in sustainable cocoa farming, and investment for schools, hospitals and education.
So far our support of the project has avoided the emission of 10,000 tonnes of CO2 and means 2,108 hectares of rainforest are protected.
As well as supporting biodiversity through offsetting, we’ve run educational sessions for employees focusing on improving biodiversity, and through our new charitable giving strategy we’re doing more to build connections between people and our planet.
Our Chief Executive Officer Keith Skeoch commented:
"World Environment Day provides an important opportunity to reflect on what we can all do to raise awareness and drive real change to protect our planet. I am delighted that our people chose a biodiversity-focused project to help us achieve our pledge to become carbon neutral.
We have supported World Environment Day for some time. Last year the focus was on air pollution, and I wrote out to our top 100 flyers to ask for their help in reducing our emissions – in 2019 our emissions from air travel fell by 42%.
It’s vital that we continue making a positive difference through all our areas of impact, from the way we operate through to our focus on ESG investment. In these difficult times, I continue to be impressed with the commitment our people show to the behaviours that support our purpose – Together we invest for a better future – and I believe we are well placed to keep driving positive change."
Watch our video for a closer look at the Gola Rainforest project.