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Wells Fargo Sustainability Report: GHGs Fall Another 6%

Wells Fargo cut its absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 18 percent from 2008 to 2012, according to the company’s 2012 corporate social responsibility interim report.

This means that last year, the company reduced its GHG emissions by a further 6 percent from the 2008 baseline. In its 2011 CSR report, Wells Fargo said it had cut emissions 12 percent since 2008. The company is aiming for a 35 percent cut by 2020.

But the interim report offers little update on the environmental impacts of Wells Fargo’s operations.

The report provides what the company calls an “abbreviated overview” of the CSR programs, activities and future commitments that Wells Fargo has identified as most material to its business and key stakeholders, covering 2012 data for the parts of US operations that represent most of its economic, environmental and social impacts. (Wells Fargo publishes a full CSR report every two years.)

Even given the report’s interim nature, however, some stakeholders may be disappointed by the paucity of data. The company does not report how any of its major operational metrics – such as absolute GHG emissions, energy efficiency or LEED-certified space – have changed in the past year.

The report says that from 2008 to 2012, Wells Fargo increased energy efficiency by 18 percent, on its way to a 40 percent rise by 2020 – but doesn’t say how that energy efficiency is measured. The 2011 CSR report presents two efficiency metrics: kWh per square foot and kWh per team member.

The interim report also says that in 2012, Wells Fargo’s LEED square footage in its leased and owned buildings stood at 5 percent. Judging from a comparison of the two reports, this was a one percent increase from 2011. The company is targeting 35 percent certification by 2020.

From 2008 to 2012 Wells Fargo increased its water efficiency by 26 percent, en route to a goal of 45 percent, and increased its waste diversion rate by 61 percent, against a goal of 65 percent. The report appears to suggest that the end-date for these goals is 2020, although it’s far from clear.

One year ago, Wells Fargo unveiled a new environmental commitment with a number of goals for 2020, focused on three areas – reducing the environmental impact of its operations, accelerating a “greener” economy and encouraging stronger communities. It now says it is on track to meet or exceed 13 of its 19 key sustainability goals, in areas that include environmental financing, community development, foreclosure prevention, supplier diversity, and community service.

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