HSBC, the first bank to become carbon neutral, has announced its five-year Global Environment Efficiency Programme (GEEP).

Simon Martin, HSBC head of group sustainability and corporate responsibility, said: “HSBC is determined to develop a sustainable business. Our shareholders, customers and employees consider these issues to be important and this clearly demonstrates our continuing progress in placing sustainability at the very core of how we do business.”

The programme is aimed at making the vast organisation, which has 315,000 employees in 10,000 offices in 82 countries, more environmentally efficient.

Projects already completed include construction of the group’s first zero carbon branch in New York, the installation of solar panels in offices in Leeds, biodiesel back up generators in an India office and waste cutting and recycling initiatives.

At its global headquarters in London, the majority of personal desk bins have been replaced with a full recycling system.

Other schemes will include introducing renewable energy technology, water and waste reduction programmes and cutting carbon dioxide emissions, including from business travel.

Offices worldwide will share best practice to help the bank achieve its targets with annual reviews to assess progress.

The GEEP programme follows the May launch of the HSBC Climate Partnership – a separate £50 million five-year link up with environmental charities, The Climate Group, Earthwatch Institute, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and WWF.

It aims to make some of the world’s leading cities, including London, cleaner and greener, promoting them as global models.

It will also research the long term effect of climate change on world forests and create a 25,000-strong green taskforce to undertake field research and bring back knowledge and experience to workplaces and communities.

David Gibbs

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