Maintaining A Sustainable Environment

Our physical environment is changing at an unprecedented pace and organizations – both public and private – recognize the need to shift from a business-as-usual mind-set. In September 2015, world leaders adopted the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”); of which, 6 out of its 17 goals are directly related to the environment and green jobs.

Citi is at the forefront of meeting this need in support of a sustainable global economy, through environmental financing (environmental financing involves using financial instruments such as loans, equity, and bonds to increase financial flows towards research, projects, products and services that have a positive impact on the environment). In 2010, the group made a bold 10-year commitment to finance and facilitate $100 billion in environmental finance activities beginning in 2014. Citi exceeded that goal in 2019 — four years ahead of schedule. Much of the work that Citi counted toward its goal was most aligned with three of the SDGs: SDG 7, which seeks to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all; SDG 11, which aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable; and SDG 13, which contributes to urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Beyond the dollar amount of direct financing, a crucial measure of success is the real-world impact of Citi’s financing and lending activities. Measurable impact areas include the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions avoided, jobs supported, and community benefits realized. The estimated 11.8 million metric tons (mt) of avoided GHG emissions as a result of Citi’s activities throughout the duration of the goal is the equivalent of removing more than 2.5 million cars from the road for one year. Also, since 2014, more than 198,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs were supported by the environmental financing Citi provided its clients.

Although these achievements are laudable and much progress has been made towards achieving sustainability targets, there is still a lot of work to be done and Citi, in recognition of this, continues to take steps to move the global financial sector forward in this regard.

The Environment and You

As it turns out, being locked in has positively impacted our climate as there has been a significant reduction in the carbon footprint across the world. Many cities have reported conditions of cleaner air resulting from the slowing/shutting down of industrial plants and transport systems. But while our planet has breathed better, the increased emphasis on handwashing has had a negative impact on water resources. Still, it can be said that the net impact of the restrictions on our environment has been positive, which then poses the question– how do we sustain this? When the COVID-19 pandemic is over, how can we ensure that we preserve the planet for our continuous existence and that of unborn generations?

Here are some practical, everyday steps you can take:

  1. Reuse and Recycle: Reusing involves cutting down on waste by repurposing items such as jars and grocery bags. Recycling involves cutting down on waste and energy consumption by turning items such as plastic bottles into new items- many garbage disposal companies offer recycling services for free. So, before you throw out that jar, think about ways you can reuse it, and when you do eventually throw it out, take the extra step to locate a recycling can.
  2. Think about your transportation: Despite the reduction in global air pollution levels, lockdowns are unsustainable, and movement is essential. When planning your movements however, consider driving rather than air travel, and carpooling/public transportation instead. If you must drive, consider using an energy efficient car. There’s also good old walking, which gives you the added benefits of exercise.
  3. Conserve energy: When leaving a room, pause for a minute and switch off lights and appliances that do not need to be left on. Switch to energy saving light bulbs if you haven’t already (LED bulbs are great). In summer months use fans instead of air conditioning as much as possible. The great thing about conserving energy is that it also saves you money!
  4. Save water: This seems counterintuitive given the increased emphasis on handwashing and general cleanliness in these times. But consider other ways in which you use water. For example, turn off the faucets when you brush your teeth instead of leaving them on to run continuously. Don’t turn on the shower until you’re ready to go in. Be mindful of your water usage when washing dishes.
  5. Grow plants and herbs: This is one of the easiest ways to reduce air pollution on an individual level as plants release oxygen into the atmosphere, absorb carbon dioxide and regulate water cycle. Plus, you can grow edible plants in your garden which then give you the additional benefits of eating organic food.

Protecting the earth is a collective effort; a conscious journey that we must all embark on by being mindful of the environmental impact of our actions; our survival as species, and indeed our entire ecosystem, is dependent on us.

Disclaimer: Data was extracted from the ESG report done by Citigroup.

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Dania Nwizu is a creative entrepreneur based in Lagos, Nigeria. She spends most of her time writing, telling food stories and walking on water.

This article is intended to provide general information about finance and investments and does not replace or should be taken as professional financial advice. The content reflects the view of the author of the article and does not necessarily reflect the views of Citi or its employees, and we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information presented in the article except information on Citibank N.A. – UAE products referenced herein.
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