Hazmig Khoury, head of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at Bank Audi, sits down with Beyond to talk about “My Carbon Footprint.”
What institution initiated this project?
It was Bank Audi that initiated this project in order to support the Ministry of the Environment with regard to the climate change effort that was pledged during COP21. We became inspired because we did our own carbon footprint assessment as an institution. We have been doing it at Bank Audi since 2012. We went on an international platform to measure the green house gases emissions of all our offices and branches – including warehouses – throughout Lebanon. The exercise gives you the total tons of carbon dioxide expenditure that you have that impacts the Earth. That number can be divided by the number of employees that you have and the number of square meters that you represent. We have actually been reducing our carbon footprint in the last few years, despite increasing employment and space occupied. So it’s even a bigger challenge to reduce the carbon footprint.
So measuring youf carbon footprint began as an internal exercise?
We got excited with our own data and knowledge, and we thought that it would be very interesting to share this – and who better to engage with than the youth? So we conceived a youth-friendly website to help them to understand more about climate change and what are the different things that they can do at home. We have been going to schools and giving them talks about it.
How does it work?
First you need to register, and then the website enables a child to calculate his/her carbon footprint. You need to put how many square meters your home is and how many people live in it and at the end of the month the student records the consumption: the electricity meter, the kilometers driven by the car, diesel bought for heating, and so on. Of course we also tailored the site for Lebanon, by adding generators and cooking gas bottles, for example.
Once the students fill in the data, a chart appears each month to show them how much impact they have made. This will inspire them to reduce. We have also allowed students to see other scores on the site to encourage them to get lower scores (less carbon footprint). There is also a financial prize for the student who assesses properly and actually shows us how the carbon footprint is reduced.
How will this data potentially benefit the Ministry of the Environment?
The data would be quite interesting for the Ministry of the Environment because it is currently speculating. It does not really know the carbon footprint of a household in Lebanon. And it pledged a 30 percent reduction by 2030 at COP21. So hopefully this information will be helpful to the Ministry in planning and achieving the reduction that it pledged.
What is the duration of this school campaign?
We launched it on Feb 1st, 2016 and the schools have four months until the end of the school year. By mid-June we should know which child made the best effort. We will announce the “Green Champion” who is the winner, but there will also be two runner-ups. We are hoping to re-launch it more in-depth and engage more schools as of the next school year (2016-2017). It will start in September/October so that students can be involved for a longer period of time. Internationally it is done on an annual basis.
Is this the first environmental CSR exercise for Bank Audi?
This campaign is the first externalized environmental initiative for us, but we have been doing our own recycling, paperless banking, measuring of our carbon footprint, and awareness- raising efforts for quite some years now. At Bank Audi the CSR strategy has been to be in line with the core business, which is banking and the economy. However, you cannot ignore the environment, and we believe that what we will do for the environment will be our own effort, which is why until today we have not gone external with it.