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ING Air Travel Up 25%; Firm Stays Carbon Neutral

ING Group’s share of electricity from renewables held steady from 2009 to 2010 at 62 percent, but the company last year saw a significant rise in travel-related emissions, according to its 2010 corporate responsibility report.

The global financial firm – which in 2011 announced that it would separate its banking activities from its insurance and investment operations – said that it bought 332,843 MWh of green electricity in 2010, a one percent increase compared to 2009. The company remains carbon neutral, as it has been since 2007. But, the report said, “Car and air travel increased substantially compared to 2009 and are back at the same level as in 2008.”

In particular, air travel per full time employee (FTE) rose by 25 percent, to 2,536 km. Car travel rose overall by 22 percent, and rose by 17 percent as a per-employee rate, to 944 km per FTE. A number of business units said that they had traveled more often to ING head office in 2010, the report said. But kilometers traveled by car in 2010 are still lower than 2008 levels.

The company’s total CO2 footprint rose one percent between 2009 and 2010, in part because of the increase in car and air travel, ING said.

ING’s 2011 goals include cutting CO2 emissions by 30 percent compared to 2007. But a single carbon reduction policy is inefficient for a company with operations in 40 countries, the report said. “That is why we set global reduction ambitions, and encourage local businesses to take specific action,” it added.

In 2010 the company met a goal for 25 percent of its business units to set targets related to business travel, paper use and electricity consumption. Total paper consumption decreased by seven percent in 2010, the company said. During the year 33 percent of ING’s business units implemented energy efficiency measures.

Last year ING also achieved its goal for five percent growth of sustainable assets under management, compared to total assets under management. Its sustainable portfolios grew across all business activities. In particular, ING’s involvement in renewable energy projects grew exponentially from 2005 to 2010, the report said. At the end of 2010, about 29 percent of the €3.3 billion of power generation financed by ING’s Structured Finance department was renewable.

For 2011, the company is targeting five percent growth of sustainable assets compared to 2010. It also aims to develop environmental and social criteria for cross-border procurement, and write customized country plans to further implement the company’s paper policy.

In the U.S. the company ranks 47th among companies buying the most clean power, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership. It buys a contract average of 86,322 MWh a year, accounting for 100 percent of its U.S. electricity use.

ING is one of the investors that has sought information on companies’ water and carbon management through the Carbon Disclosure Project.

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