0

Scotiabank playing its part in climate change battles

photo

ROGER ARCHER

By ROGER ARCHER

Managing Director

Scotiabank Bahamas

The recent spate of mega storms, hurricanes and other natural disasters in the Caribbean has served as a stark reminder of how our way of life is affecting the climate. It is a wake-up call for us to seriously reconsider our treatment of planet earth.

Hurricane Dorian in 2019, for instance, cost The Bahamas over $5bn in losses to say nothing of the dead and missing. More recently, the World Meteorological Organisation has said the last eight years have been the warmest on record, and warned that “there are no positive indicators so far”. The United Nations (UN) estimates that the earth is now about 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer than it was in the late 1800s. Between June to August this year, global surface temperature was 1.6 degrees above the 20th century average of 60.1°F, ranking it as the fifth warmest June to August period in the 143 years since we started tracking these temperatures.

Current estimates are that the global average sea level has risen by eight to nine inches in the last 200 years. In 2021, global sea levels hit a new record of 3.8 inches above 1993 levels, even more evidence that the rate of sea level rise is accelerating and posing significant risks to coastal towns and cities across the globe.

Here at home, we are already seeing the effects. When Hurricane Dorian tore through the archipelago in 2019, it destroyed approximately 73 percent of the mangrove trees on Grand Bahama. The loss of so many mangroves was catastrophic as they form a natural barrier along the coast, buffering against storm surges and floodwaters that could penetrate deeper inland.

The United Nations (UN) defines climate change as the long-term shifts in global temperatures and weather patterns. While these shifts may be natural, such as variations in the solar cycle, human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels including coal, oil and gas have been credited for being the main drivers of climate change since the 1800s. Fossil fuels generate greenhouse gas emissions that act like a blanket wrapped around the Earth, trapping the sun’s heat and raising temperatures. Among the effects of climate change are intense droughts, rising sea levels, flooding and catastrophic storms annually.

We here in The Bahamas and the Caribbean can attest to these weather events, where tropical cyclones are a perennial feature for us. These storms are further worsened by the increasingly warmer ocean surface temperatures and becoming larger, more intense and more destructive annually. Unless action is taken, this will only worsen.

The world’s first climate conference in 1979, known as the First Earth Summit, adopted a declaration that set out principles for the preservation and enhancement of the human environment, and an action plan containing recommendations for international environmental action. But it was not until 1992 before the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was established as an international environmental treaty to combat dangerous human interference with the climate system, in part by stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. Since then, 198 countries have ratified the Convention as parties to it.

The Kyoto protocol followed in 1995, legally binding developed countries to greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets. The most significant agreement, however, came in 2015 with the Paris Agreement at the Paris Climate Conference in 2021 (COP21). That agreement bound 196 countries to a plan to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, then called for new commitments at COP22 (Egypt 2022) that will deliver a reduction of GHG emissions by 45 percent by 2030 so that we can reach net zero emissions by mid-century.

To this end, banks and financial institutions worldwide have committed to a ‘net zero’ 2050 target, and several have promised to take steps to reduce their direct greenhouse gas emissions, as well as those of their clients. The United Nations-convened Net Zero Banking Alliance, which started with 122 members in April 2021, now has a membership of 122 major banks across 41 countries representing $72trn in assets, which is equivalent to 40 percent of global banking assets. They expect to meet these targets through sustainable financing, a venture which takes environmental, social and governance considerations into account when making investment decisions in the financial sector. It involves giving greater consideration to financing projects and business decisions that have a positive impact on climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as biodiversity, pollution prevention and recycling.

At Scotiabank, we are doing our part by committing to mobilising $350bn by 2030 to reduce the impact of climate change, and to ensure robust climate-related governance and transparency in reporting. We have also adopted policies that enhance the integration of climate risk assessments in our lending, financing and investing activities. In addition, enterprise-wide transformations such as solar power integration have also begun to decarbonise our own operations with innovative solutions that reduce our impact on the changing climate and ensure that we operate in an environmentally sustainable way.

For example, we have moved to bank-owned electric vehicles for our messenger vans and installed an energy management system at our Rawson Square location. We’ve also completed the R22 refrigerant replacement and chiller system installation exercise at Rawson Square, and introduced LED lighting throughout. Our East Bay Street location has seen its ventilation and air-conditioning system upgraded, as well as its roof completely re-done to make the building more heat efficient. All of our bank-owned premises have also been retrofitted to include more energy efficient insulation, following a feasibility review of our solar energy use policies and activities, and we have even begun to make adjustments to our operations aimed at reducing paper consumption.

Finally, the bank has also established a Climate Change Centre of Excellence to mobilise internal and external collaborations, dialogue and information sharing, in order to further and contribute to the global conversation on climate change.

Several other industries, entities and partnerships have already begun to demonstrate this commitment to the environment and to renewable energy, and we hope that others will follow suit.

At Scotiabank, we believe that climate change and the environment are critical priorities for both the public and private sectors, and we are committed to playing our part in supporting advancements which are vital to preserving our delicate, valuable and life-giving environment.

Comments

ohdrap4 8 months ago

Take care of the client 's money. Climate change is not your monkey or your circus.

Sign in to comment