3 QUESTIONS: Close Brothers Asset Finance
'We work to limit the impact of our operations on the environment'
Close Brothers is a UK merchant bank that has been in business for 142 years and is listed on the FTSE 250. The lender’s leasing division, Close Brothers Asset Finance, was founded in 1987 and has offices in Scotland and Germany, as well as a well-established motor finance division.
Leasing Life asked Neil Davies, chief executive of Close Brothers Asset Finance and Leasing, about the company’s strategies for managing climate change, how well placed the asset finance sector is to cope with the challenges and the metrics the company employs when writing new business.
Close Brothers Asset Finance was a Sustainability finalist for the Leasing Life Awards 2019.
What policies or strategies does your company have in place to manage climate change?
We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously and recently implemented a comprehensive five-year strategy, developed in partnership with our third-party environmental consultants. As part of this process we formalised an internal Environmental Policy outlining our approach and commitments to managing our environmental sustainability.
Our commitments under this policy include:
- Compliance with all environmental legislation and codes of practice throughout the different areas we operate in and, where possible, demonstrate best practice in environmental stewardship
- Continue to monitor and report on our environmental footprint both internally and externally
- Reduce our direct environmental impact from our operations through the introduction of various initiatives related to waste reduction and management, and our use of transport, energy and water; minimise unnecessary consumption, improve rates of recycling and promote the use of recycled materials wherever possible
- In particular, we will focus on energy efficiency, the purchase of renewable energy and the reduction of emissions from our fleet vehicles
- Over the longer-term, aim to reduce our indirect environmental impact by working with our value chain and promoting efficient and responsible behaviour from both our customers and suppliers
- Raise awareness of environmental issues and promote responsible behaviour amongst our employees by engaging them through our “Green Team” of employee representatives, undertaking group-wide initiatives and activities, and regularly conducting staff environmental surveys.
To help focus our efforts on achieving a positive impact, we have set ourselves targets of achieving zero waste to landfill and a 20% improvement in fleet vehicle emissions by 2021.
Is the world of asset finance and leasing immune from climate change pressures?
It is widely recognised that financial services companies have an important part to play in supporting the transition to a carbon-neutral economy and addressing the risks posed by climate change. We take these challenges very seriously, and we work to limit the impact of our operations on the environment and to take actions that make a positive contribution to the world around us.
Our green energy lending business has been a leading provider of finance to the renewable energy sector for a number of years, supporting schemes for wind, solar and hydropower developments. If we put all the wind farms, solar parks and hydro schemes we have funded together and created a large power station, it would be big enough to power around 350,000 homes, or a city as big as Newcastle.
We also monitor our energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions across the business via a third-party provider and participate in the CDP (formerly the “Carbon Disclosure Project”), which allows us to disclose our greenhouse gas emissions and our approach to managing climate-related impact on a voluntary basis.
In 2019, our total greenhouse gas emissions were down 12% overall and 16% per employee since 2018. Our continued efforts towards our environmental impact are reflected by this reduction in our total emissions in 2019.
Does your business currently apply any environmental metrics when writing new business?
Consideration of environmental risks and ethical standards is explicitly required as part of any credit underwriting proposal under our bank Credit Policy. Carbon neutrality is a goal and something that we aspire to, and we look to fund businesses with similar values to our own.