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Environmental issues back on the table at Ulster Bank event

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Businesses must redouble their efforts in the fight against climate change, according to Ulster Bank’s Gemma Jordan

She led a round table discussion recently with a number of business leaders and environmental bodies from across Northern Ireland.

Held to mark Recycling Week in Northern Ireland, speakers and attendees took the opportunity to share examples of best practice and explore how they can work together to tackle climate change.

The session involved attendees from Queen’s University, NI Water, Business in the Community, Belfast Climate Commission, as well as independent sustainability advisors and representatives from Ulster Bank.

Ulster Bank has already identified the need to transition to a low carbon economy and is focusing heavily on this as part of the bank’s new purpose-led strategy.

It aims to eliminate single-use plastics from all Ulster Bank buildings, reduce the overall paper consumption by 70 per cent and keep waste to 3kg per week through improved recycling systems.

Schemes have also been introduced to encourage employees, partners and suppliers to be aware of their operational footprint and to become engaged with the bank’s drive to adopt environmentally friendly activities at work, at home and in their wider communities.

Gemma Jordan, Climate Lead with Ulster Bank, told attendees how important it was to implement a green strategy and how the Covid-19 pandemic threatened to shift the focus away from issues such as sustainability.

“Our teams across Ulster Bank were making significant inroads to reducing our organisation’s operational footprint and we were well on our way to meeting our target of becoming climate positive by 2025.

“In many ways, the coronavirus pandemic has overshadowed the climate emergency during the last six months so it’s crucial that we refocus our efforts and recommit ourselves to this pledge.

“Hearing from other organisations and businesses today has been encouraging for us and we’ve come away with a renewed sense of energy to deliver on our promises to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy.”

Paul Harper, Director at NI Water, explained some of the measures his organisation has taken to become more sustainable.

“At NI Water, our approach to environmental issues is, like water, inherently circular.

“As the biggest consumer of electricity in Northern Ireland, we’ve set ourselves the target of ensuring that 100 per cent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2027 and through our Strategy and Business Plan we are committed to achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050.

“We recognise that we can play a key role in supporting the wider societal shift to a decarbonised circular economy through areas such as planting more trees on our land, battery storage, green charging infrastructure, harnessing hydrogen and recovering heat from waste for homes and businesses.

“In addition we will continue to reduce our emissions resulting from our capital investment and operations.

“Each year we deliver a number of educational programmes so that our customers and stakeholders are using water in a responsible, sustainable way.

“Today’s session with Ulster Bank was a useful exercise for us and it was interesting to hear how other organisations are dealing with the climate emergency.”

n For more information about Ulster Bank’s commitment to climate action, www.ulsterbank.com/climate

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