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French Banking Major Societe Generale Overachieves On Carbon Emission Reduction Targets

French banking giant Societe Generale has overachieved on its carbon emission reduction target set under its carbon neutrality plan. The bank has planned to reduce carbon emissions per occupant by 11% between 2008 and 2012 but was able to reduce them by 20%, excluding its Russian subsidiary Rosbank. The bank has also planned to reduce its dependence on the natural resources and offset its carbon emissions.

The group offset 75% of 2011 carbon emissions and plans to offset 100% of the 2012 carbon emissions, thereby achieving carbon neutrality. The group collects environment data from 99% of the employees covered under the campaign. The group also implemented penalties for subsidiaries that failed to report environmental data. The subsidiaries offset their carbon emissions independently which gives them enough flexibility to achieve the emission reduction targets through appropriate measures.

Societe Generale had also implemented an internal carbon tax system which allowed carbon credits to be purchased and encouraged  each entity within the Group to control its environmental impact. Societe Generale is building or renovating its branches and offices to either Low Energy Building (Seyssinet, France) or positive energy standards by installing solar panels on the roofs of branches (Polynesia and Burkina Faso).  The Group is also transitioning towards a greener IT infrastructure, installing new lower-consumption datacenters and workstations and implementing automatic scheduled PC shut-downs (Romania, United Kingdom, and soon in France). Starting in 2012, Societe Generale chose to allocate revenues from this tax to financing internal environmental efficiency projects in order to further promote reducing the Group’s carbon footprint.

The group purchased its carbon offsets from renewable energy and gas recovery projects in Africa, Asia, and South America. These projects are registered under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and (Voluntary Emission Reduction) VER Gold Standard. In 2011, the group purchased about 208,300 tonnes of carbon offsets. These offsets were purchased from a wind farm in Morocco, a small hydropower plant in Guatemala, a bioenergy project in India, methane recovery from Argentinean landfills, and wind farms and the recovery of methane from landfills in Turkey. In 2012, the group plans to purchase about 265,600 tonnes of carbon offsets.

The group also has sound environmental policies in the transport and IT sector. The group has plans to improve the carbon efficiency of its transport fleet, encourage employees to adopt carpooling and possibly use electric vehicles. In the IT sector, the group was able to reduce 6,600 tonnes of carbon emissions and introduced the Team Anywhere project (instant messaging, multipoint video and web conferencing). The group plans to achieve a cumulative carbon emission reduction of 25,000 tonnes by 2012.

The views presented in the above article are the author’s personal views only.

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Written By

Mridul currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.


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