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A clear change in Norwegians’ attitudes to climate issues will change our consumption habits

Developing new and sustainable solutions for customers is top of mind for the banking and finance industry.

04 November 2021

A remarkable 7 in 10 Norwegians now say that they are willing to change their consumption habits in order to reduce their own climate footprint. The banking and finance industry is not being slow with regard to developing new and sustainable solutions for customers. Key terms for successful work on climate and sustainability issues at Bank Norwegian, Sparebanken Sør and Eika Gruppen include focus, technology, value chain, customer proximity, transparency and honesty in everything.

At the end of June 2021, the analysis company YouGov asked Norwegians on behalf of TietoEVRY whether they were willing to change their consumption habits in order to reduce their own personal climate footprint. At that time, half of respondents said yes (52%). In August, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its latest report in which it characterised the situation as ‘code red’ for humanity. Following the publication of this report and an election campaign in which climate change was high on the agenda, a sizeable 7 in 10 Norwegians now answer the same question in the affirmative. A remarkable 20% of Norway’s population has accordingly changed its attitude to the threat of climate change in a relatively short period of time.

At a recent customer conference organised by TietoEVRY Card Services it became clear that sustainability is at the top of the banking and finance industry’s agenda. Virtually all of the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions are the result of the goods and services that their customers consume, which is to say that indirect emissions account for 99.97% of the industry’s emissions, according to a survey from PWC.

Digital and honest

“For a bank like ours, which creates services for people to use in their everyday life, sustainability is relevant to all our products. It is a question not only of our environmental footprint but also of the social impact that our products and services have, and of how we operate and manage our activities. At Bank Norwegian, we are looking at where we have the biggest impact on the wider world, and the answer turns out to be the social aspect, which is to say how the use of cards and loans affects our customers and society”, explains Bank Norwegian’s Melita Ringvold, who was appointed as the new Head of Communication and Sustainability at Bank Norwegian in April of this year.

“Sustainability is becoming more and more important, and is something that our customers, investors and employees are demanding. We need to take an integrated approach to this”, comments Melita, who continues:

“For us, it is important to be close to our customers, as well as straightforward, digital and honest in everything we do. These factors, together with responsible lending, are our way of addressing sustainability. We believe that people will continue to borrow for what they need, but the key is to keep track of and to control your purchases - whether you are borrowing money in order to refurbish your family cabin, to repair something or to pay for transport or services. Borrowing for various needs is not in itself wrong, but we can help our customers to take more conscious purchasing decisions”, comments Melita Ringvold.

Bank Norwegian regards knowledge about finance and debt as important. It therefore supports independent debt advice and has supported Stiftelsen Rettferd (the Justice Foundation), which offers free debt advice to all customers in need of help.

Sustainability needs to be approached holistically

Lars Pedersen, Head of Cards and Payment at Sparebanken Sør, explains that the bank has an ambitious target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030.

“We are taking an holistic approach to sustainability. We were, for example, the first bank in Norway to be certified for equality by Likestilt Arbeidsliv, and we are Eco-Lighthouse certified, we buy carbon credits to make us climate-neutral, and we have a guarantee of origin for our electricity. Our sustainability work is a natural extension of the role the bank has played for nearly 200 years. Sustainability is something I am responsible for both in general and in the cards area, and we are committed to looking at sustainability throughout each entire value chain. We take care to ensure that what we provide to customers is sustainable, and we also seek to enable our customers to make more conscious choices”, comments Lars Pedersen.

Sparebanken Sør has produced climate accounts since 2015, and it is committed to ensuring that the information provided to its customers and partners is entirely transparent. The bank is a signatory to the UN Global Compact, and it works systematically to ensure compliance and to apply best practice in a high-quality manner. Its efforts in the area of sustainability have resulted in it recently being ranked as Norway’s most sustainable bank by the well-known rating agency Sustainalytics, which carries out ESG (environmental, social and governance) assessments of companies.

The hunt for improvements to the card area’s value chain has also led to concrete progress. It is now not only how we eat that will be greener. The payment cards we use will also be plant-based. Sparebanken Sør will shortly launch new bank cards provided by TietoEVRY that are created out of biological material (PLA, polylactic acid), which is made from inedible corn kernels. It is not petroleum-based and non-toxic if burned. This will reduce the CO2 emissions associated with the card production process by a sizeable 75% compared with current levels.

Helping customers to make good decisions

Eika Kredittbank also has a long tradition of sustainability work. “Even though we derive our income from providing our customers with financing for the things they need, we need to help them make sensible decisions, including in sustainability terms. We can do this by stimulating re-use and local consumption”, comments Anders Gran, Sales and Marketing Director at Eika Kredittbank, who is also responsible for sustainability at the bank.

“Eika is building on the work that the local banks in the alliance have done to promote local sustainability for more than 150 years, both directly in our own work and by supporting the banks’ efforts. The banks were set up to contribute to the economic and social development of their local communities”, comments Anders Gran, who explains that the green transition has led to a change of pace.

“As an industry, we need to take sustainability to heart and live by it. This is absolutely indisputable”, comments Anders Gran.

Sustainability work is a question of systematic work, focus and continual improvement.

“We are replacing our bank cards with cards made from recycled plastic, and we are also offering digital cards. We have not posted out letters with PINs for a long time – you can now get your pin from our online bank. We are also finding that more and more people are interested in ‘green’ car loans, and this is growing in scope”, explains Anders Gran.

The Eika group is also a signatory to the UN’s Principles for Responsible Banking, and it is a member of the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative, a global partnership between the UN and the financial sector.

“The UN’s Principles for Responsible Banking, in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, encourage us to understand how our activities impact the world around us for better and worse. We need to be transparent and to change how we work so that we have a more positive impact on society”, explains Anders Gran.

More conscious choices every day

Women are more willing than men to make changes to their own lifestyles, according to the YouGov survey. While 79% of women responded that they would change their lifestyle, one in three men are unwilling to change their consumption habits – and this percentage was the same in the surveys carried out before and after the summer of 2021.

Not surprisingly, young people aged between 18-29 are the most willing to change their own habits to reduce their own personal climate footprint. An overwhelming 90% now say that they will change their consumption habits, compared to 67% in this age group before the summer.

“It is only now that the consequences of climate change are becoming clearer and are being experienced closer to home that we are willing to change our own lifestyles. Greater knowledge of and insight into how we can do this will be important going forward. At the same time, there is no doubt that technology can help us to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. We regard it as an important part of our social function to both cut our own emissions and to invest in good solutions that enable banks and financial institutions to help their customers to be more aware and to take personal finance decisions that are responsible from a climate perspective”, comments Mario Blazevic, Head of Card Issuing at TietoEVRY.

The trio, who took part in the debate at the customer conference organised by TietoEVRY Card Services, say that they have become more conscious of the climate impact of the choices they make.

“I have started to cycle more and to drive my car less. I cycled here today, for example, despite the rain and snow. And I obviously recycle everything I can at home”, comments Anders Gran.

“I pay the issue much more attention on a day-to-day basis and feel that I am on the right track”, comments Lars Pedersen.

Melita Ringvold explains that the young people she lives with mean she increasingly makes new choices that are good for the environment.

“I have children at home who challenge us a lot. We take the climate into consideration much more, consume less and invest in quality, rent more, repair things when they break and buy second-hand”, she explains.

The survey that was carried out by YouGov for TietoEVRY surveyed a representative selection of Norway’s over-18 population.

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At a recent customer conference organised by TietoEVRY Card Services it became clear that sustainability is at the top of the banking and finance industry’s agenda. From left, Anders Gran, Sales & Marketing Director at Eika Kredittbank; Lars Pedersen, Director Cards, Payments & Business Development at Sparebanken Sør; Melita Ringvold, Head of Communication & Sustainability at Bank Norwegian and Mario Blazevic, Head of Card Issuing at TietoEVRY. 
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