RBC produces first "carbon neutral" triple bottom line report
For the first time, RBC Financial Group has rendered its annual Corporate Responsibility Report, together with its annual report to shareholders and its management proxy circular, "carbon neutral." The 2006 report, titled "Towards Sustainability: Where Our Values Lead Us," provides a triple bottom line review of the company's economic impact and its business and workplace practices, as well as its impact on the environment and society.
RBC worked with Zerofootprint Offsets, a third-party vendor, to determine the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from the production and transportation of its reports. The company then offset those emissions by investing in a reforestation project in a Canadian community through Zerofootprint. These carbon-neutralizing offsets are guaranteed ISO 14064-2 certified, a world standard in greenhouse gas emission accounting.
Also as part of its effort to reduce its environmental footprint, RBC notes that most of its corporate responsibility reporting is now on-line, having been transferred to its Web site (www.rbc.com) in 2006, with the print report intended to be an annual summary of its activities.
RBC first unveiled its corporate environmental policy in 1992 and revised it in 2004; a further revision is slated to appear during 2007. The policy's original purpose-to shield credit transactions from environmental risks-has broadened in scope over the years to encompass business development and the company's full range of operations, as well as its lending practices.
Environmental performance highlights during 2006 included RBC's recognition by leading sustainability organizations and indices. The company is listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, the Jantzi Social Index and the FTSE4Good Index, all of which recognize financial, social and environmental leaders. Early this year, RBC added to a list of the "Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations" for 2006.
During 2006 as well, the company committed itself to the revised, expanded Equator Principles, a set of voluntary guidelines addressing the environmental and social risks associated with project financing. RBC first adopted the Principles in 2003 and participated in their updating and revision (the final version was released in July 2006). The company reviewed the environmental and social impacts of four Equator Principle projects last year, and reviewed nearly 700 transactions using its environmental risk experts where environmental issues were deemed material.
Within its own operations, RBC reports that it decreased its year-over-year GHG emissions by 7%; reduced paper consumption by about 20 tonnes (by offering clients the option of on-line, rather than paper, statements); and purchased 1,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of green power, mitigating 640 tonnes of GHG emissions. These initiatives are part of RBC's "SOFT" (sourcing, operations, facilities and travel) Environmental Footprint Reduction program.
To reflect its diverse operations, RBC's report is available in three editions: global, Canadian English, and Canadian French. The Canadian editions contain RBC's annual Public Accountability Statement as required by Canada's financial services legislation. The 2006 report is available on-line at www.rbc.com.