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SEB goes to Tanzania for climate compensation

SEB’s group executive committee has decided to cut the bank’s own carbon emissions by 45 per cent by 2015 compared to the level reported in 2008. The reduction should come about by switching to green electricity, using environmentally friendly cars, travel smarter and using less paper. To compensate for the remaining emissions, SEB contributes to projects that help reduce carbon emissions.

“We continue to reduce our own emissions according to plan. However, the project we support in China will not compensate for as much carbon emissions as we first thought. We have therefore decided to also support a tree planting project in Africa,” says Jonas Solehav, environmental manager at SEB.

The project in China’s Ningxia-Hui region aims to provide 19,000 poor families with access to solar cookers, and thereby reduce emissions from other cookers that use fossil fuel. The compensation takes place retroactively and currently SEB is compensating for emissions made in 2009.

The bank emitted a total of 47,000 tons of carbon dioxide in 2010 and the solar cookers in China will compensate for around 25 per cent of this. Planting trees in Tanzania will compensate for the rest. The Chinese project has been approved by the United Nations while the project in Tanzania has been approved by Voluntary Carbon Standard, an organisation backed by several large multinational corporations and many governments.

SEB normally stays close to the bank’s home markets, also concerning environmental projects, sponsoring and charity. However, finding climate compensation projects that are approved by credible international organisations in these markets has proved difficult. Most such projects are in countries far from Northern Europe.

“We believe it’s important to support projects that have good and credible disclosure of what’s been done and what results have been achieved. The climate issue is global and the projects we support make a significant difference,” Solehav says.

From 1990 until 2005, over six million hectares of forest disappeared in Tanzania. The local government tries to reduce further deforestation through a range of initiatives, but often lack the necessary financial resources.

In addition to climate compensation, the tree-planting project in Tanzania also provides job opportunities, education in different forms to local residents and improved infrastructure such as better access to water in nearby villages.