Westpac’s policies on Water and Carbon emissions:
The United Nations predicts that by 2025, 5 billion of the world’s 7.9 billion people will live in areas where the supply of water is scarce and 1 in 3 will not have access to adequate drinking water. We believe water scarcity is one of the biggest environmental issues and so we’re committed to:
- Reducing water consumption associated with our own operations
- Supporting market-based water rights trading systems
- Participating in discussions on water management and helping to facilitate changes rising from water reform initiatives
- Better understanding water-related risks and opportunities in our portfolio, and across the communities in which we operate.
Our involvement so far Westpac was the first bank globally and the first Australian company to sign the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) CEO Water Mandate. The Mandate is an international project driven by the UNGC to develop positive strategies and solutions for the emerging global water crisis. We continue to support the Water Stewardship Initiative, building a benchmarking system to promote responsible commercial and industrial water use. We are a participant in the UNEP Finance Initiative water risk stream working to deliver tools for incorporating water related risks into investment decision-making systems and processes. We also participate in the Australian Bankers’ Association working group on water issues and are a founding member of the Agricultural Alliance on Climate Change. We provide a range of solutions for retail customers to support their own efforts in reducing water consumption, including discounts and redemptions on rainwater tanks and other water saving devices, through our responsible products. We continue to look for opportunities to improve water efficiency across our property portfolio. For example, our Sydney headquarters, Westpac Place, utilises a stormwater harvesting system which collects rain water run off and re-uses it in the air-conditioning system cooling towers to replenish cooling water lost through evaporation.
We believe that climate change is not just an environmental problem; it is also a fundamental economic issue posing various risks to business. Through our work on climate change issues over the last decade, including discussions with a range of internal and external stakeholders, we have come to the conclusion that the most significant impact we can have is to assist our customers’ transition to a low carbon economy. More broadly we will seek to drive awareness and action in the community. In 2008 we launched the second iteration of our climate change response. It reinforces the need to work with our suppliers, our customers and our employees to help them minimise the risks associated with climate change and encourage them to think about the opportunities. Our approach focuses on five key areas:
1. Managing climate risks and building capacity across the business
2. Developing products and services that drive positive environmental outcomes
3. Engaging employees around climate change issues and impacts
4. Communication and advocacy in the community
5. Minimising our direct environmental footprint