Carbon offsetting helps Ålandsbanken with climate goals that aim to net zero emissions by 2050

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Ålandsbanken was founded in 1919 and it operates and provides banking services in Finland and Sweden. The company employs around 800 people.

Environmental issues have always been important to Ålandsbanken and in 2021, the company started highlighting climate actions even more. The emissions calculations, which are based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHGP), were extended to cover the bank’s core business as a whole. This includes the company’s own operational business, treasury portfolio and lending, as well as investments made by the customers. Ålandsbanken also set climate goals for the whole corporation: CO₂e emissions will be reduced by 50% by 2030 compared to 2021, the company will be climate neutral by 2035, and it should achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

“This is part of our DNA,” explains Sustainability Developer Linda Lund from Ålandsbanken. “As an example, we have launched both the Åland Index * and the Baltic Sea Project over the years. We see our role as important in our nearest areas but eventually, climate actions are bigger than us – the whole world benefits from those. I also think that the financial services industry is one of the key businesses to make the change happen together with all our stakeholders.”

(*Doconomy AB is now managing Åland Index in order to fully focus on its development and expansion.)

Compensate’s unique approach convinced Ålandsbanken

Offsetting emissions is part of the bank’s new climate strategy. It is not possible to reach net zero emissions immediately, which is why Ålandsbanken started compensating for its emissions in 2021. This covers CO2e emissions that are related to the company’s own operations and that can be measured today. Ålandsbanken chose to offset its emissions using Compensate’s high impact carbon capture portfolio.

“At Ålandsbanken, we have always chosen our own path. We make very conscious decisions and our DNA is the North Star that guides us. With offsetting services, there are lots of choices. But we need to know what we are doing, stand behind our choices, and make the difference we are aiming for. When we got more familiar with Compensate, we realized that the company is also doing things differently. Compensate’s approach that is based on science, strict project selection criteria, and overcompensation was something that we considered reliable,” Lund says.

Compensate manages a diverse portfolio of carbon projects , which also affected Ålandsbanken’s decision to choose Compensate: “We considered this very interesting, and the portfolio approach has lots of similarities compared to our business. The diversified portfolio mitigates risks but also aims for the highest possible impact and benefits. I think this is a very unique combination in the voluntary carbon market,” Lund explains. “We also value the fact that Compensate’s projects take into account, for example, biodiversity and human rights. All of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals are important to us.”

Setting climate goals might be challenging but it’s not an excuse to delay climate actions

Companies are facing challenges when they are trying to set climate goals and calculate their emissions. As a bank, Ålandsbanken is used to working with and delivering exact numbers – hence, it was first difficult to accept that the emissions calculations might not be as accurate as they were hoping for.

“The first thing is the data availability, which is very poor. We were also concerned about the data quality and the lack of methods for the emissions calculations, which makes it difficult to know if we are concentrating on the right issues. This especially concerns the scope 3 emissions. But we were very stubborn and wanted to start the journey. The emissions calculations might change over time but at least we found a starting point. We have been brave enough to say that we are now using the figures that were available and we communicate about this openly. If something needs to be changed, then we will be transparent about it, and it will be changed.”

“The second thing is setting the goals. Companies are now doing this in various ways, there is not an established benchmark or a standardized way to set the targets. Because of the lack of the standards, it is difficult to know that we, together, are achieving the needed progress.”

Despite this, Lund encourages everyone to set targets and start climate actions as soon as possible. “Don’t wait for the best timing or the right information. Start where you are today and make sure that sustainability is integrated into the organization. It shouldn’t be something you do every now and then but something that you do together as an organization. As these issues are complex, it’s also good to get help whenever needed so that you know you are concentrating on the right things. If you’re doing only one thing, make sure it’s the right one.”

Interested in a high impact carbon capture portfolio? Get familiar with our carbon projects .

Read more: A carbon footprint of products is now transparent – Varusteleka aims for a less irresponsible product selection Offsetting carbon footprint strengthens’s brand

More articles