ROYAL Bank of Scotland is slashing its travel budget, cutting its paper usage and reducing its electricity bill as it tries to save £200 million in costs before 2020.
The new environmental targets have already seen an annual meeting of 300 senior executives from around the world being held online instead of in person.
Chief executive Stephen Hester said the new environmental targets were part of efforts to show that the bank is “changing” and that big businesses such as RBS have a “duty” to save resources such as energy and paper and to cut down on their travel.
But environmental campaigners branded the move as “laughable” and said RBS should instead reduce its funding for the oil and gas sector.
RBS aims to cut the amount of carbon dioxide emissions produced when its staff travel by 50 per cent by 2020 compared with 2011 levels.
The firm also wants to cut the amount of paper it uses across its branches and offices in half by 2020.
Hester said: “I’m very pleased RBS has set ambitious targets to reduce our environmental impacts and help save resources over the coming years. Big business, big employers like RBS have a duty to manage their carbon footprint. It’s also an opportunity for us to show RBS is changing and that we recognise our responsibilities as a global citizen.”
Publishing the targets marks the first time that the bank has made public its cost-saving targets, although figures have previously been used for internal purposes.
Sefton Laing, group head of environment, said that the targets covered RBS’s worldwide operations and not just its businesses in the UK.
He said that the figures used for the 2011 baseline would be adjusted to reflect the sale of buildings in the UK or whole businesses abroad, so that the like-for-like figure would reflect the make-up of the group come 2020.
“It would be too easy just to count the buildings or units that have been sold,” Laing explained. “That was one of the first questions that staff asked when we started telling them about the targets.”
Laing said that much of the savings would be made by cutting down on the amount of travel. He said more video-conferencing and web meeting equipment was being rolled out in the group, with all staff due to have access by 2014.
Mary Church, from Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “It is laughable that RBS thinks changing the odd light-bulb and a bit of recycling amounts to recognising its ‘responsibilities as a global citizen’ while it continues to provide billions to companies wreaking havoc in the Canadian tar sands, described as the most environmentally-destructive project on Earth.
“RBS is the UK bank most heavily involved in financing the fossil fuel industry. If the bank is serious about reducing its environmental impact, it should start by dis-investing in companies operating in the tar sands and the coal, oil and gas industries.”