Bankwatch bashes Vancity; I disagree

I heart you, Colin, but you’re wrong on this one.

Banks and Credit Unions are getting all green over the last two years, and its becoming a fad. Maybe I am getting old, so feel free to call me out on this.

I was surprised to see VanCity, whom I respect using what appears to be shadow accounting to accomodate a claim of carbon neutrality.

I have to call VanCity out on this one. Using a ‘Social Audit’ they have calculated their degree of carbon usage. No problem there. In order to become carbon neutral, they have purchased ‘offsets from five alternative energy projects’. Huh?

…. I get the whole desire to appear carbon neutral, but lets not lose touch with reality. The organisation is carbon negative by definition. Paper, people, computers are all carbon users, and that wont change. This can be reduced, and managed. But to claim a fiction by adding something to a “carbon balance sheet” to make yourself carbon neutral is ridiculous.

Every Bank could do that same thing, and I ask … would the world be safer, and less prone to climate change?

My response:

Vancity isn’t perfect, but they’re sincere. This isn’t slapping a “green” logo on electronic statements, which I’ve seen many FIs doing.

From their site, “Over the last 10 years, Vancity cut its energy use by 50 per cent, incidents of staff commuting to work by driving alone by 13 per cent, and its paper consumption by 30 per cent saving well over $2 million in energy costs alone.”

Sure, you can cite “carbon neutral” as an impossible standard to achieve, but we know what they mean – that for the damage done to the environment from being in business they’re trying to erase thatoffset that by doing that much good.

You ask, “Every Bank could do that same thing, and I ask … would the world be safer, and less prone to climate change?” No matter what the answer really is, you can’t fault Vancity for trying. And I believe they’re making an honest attempt.

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