UBS’s RE100 goal is to be 100% powered by renewable energy by 2020, which will reduce its greenhouse gas footprint by 75% compared with 2004 levels. Dr Caroline Anstey, Group Managing Director, Global Head UBS and Society tells us more.

What are UBS’s motivations for becoming ‘100% renewable’?

UBS aims to take a leadership role in helping to increase demand for renewable energy across the globe. After 10 years of constantly reducing our greenhouse gas footprint, we are convinced that going for 100% renewable electricity brings our program to the next level.

We see benefits in contributing to the transition to a low carbon economy and in future, there may be additional cost benefits as the energy market changes over time.

Why do you think RE100 is a good initiative to be part of?

For us, RE100 is the right initiative at the right time, and a perfect way to demonstrate that we walk the

talk on renewable energy. In addition we would like to share knowledge about the global renewable energy market with other RE100 companies.

What internal processes did you go through to decide on your 100% goal?

Going 100% renewable was a logical next step for us. We’ve had a comprehensive environmental policy for more than 20 years and a climate change strategy since 2006, including annual reporting, so there was no need to involve new people or dramatically change the way we do things. The goal was driven forwards by our Corporate Culture and Responsibility Committee at board-level.

What have you achieved so far in your journey to being 100% renewable?

UBS reduced its greenhouse gas footprint by more than 50% between 2004 and 2014 by implementing energy efficiency measures, increasing our share of renewable energy and offsetting business air travel emissions.

Since 2007 in Switzerland, 2012 in Germany and 2013 in the UK, we have been sourcing 100% of our electricity from renewable sources, mainly hydro and wind power. Since 2008 in the US we have sourced more than 285GWh of renewable electricity, mainly from wind power.

What challenges and opportunities have you encountered so far in working towards 100%?

We have been buying renewable energy for more than 10 years and have considerable experience in mastering this increasingly complex market. As we roll out our program globally, regional differences will play a role.

We accept that we currently pay a premium for renewable energy but we know that grid parity is close and costs will become significantly lower than current prices. The more renewable energy there is on the grid, the more the prices come down – we’ve seen that in Germany. That’s why we want to create demand together with other RE100 companies.

What plans do you have for increasing your use of renewable electricity?

We will continuously evaluate and implement renewable energy options across our global footprint in 56 countries. We are watching the Asia market very closely as the business case for renewable energy increases - we really want to invest in credible things that drive a credible story.

Why do you think it is important for companies to help accelerate demand for renewable electricity?

UBS research suggests that the market underestimates the magnitude and the implications of the looming solar revolution on the utility industry. We believe solar will eventually replace nuclear and coal, and establish as the default technology of the future to generate and supply electricity. We want to help ensure business moves in the right direction sooner rather than later.

Does the banking sector have a leading role to play in developing a low carbon economy?

Financial institutions are increasingly playing an active role in the transition to a low carbon economy, and we at UBS are determined to support our clients in preparing for success in an increasingly carbon-constrained world.

UBS has been included in The A List: The CDP Climate Performance Leadership Index 2014  for its actions to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the business risks of climate change. As a leading global financial services provider, we focus our climate change strategy on risk management, investments, financing, research and our own operations.

In addition, UBS was just named industry group leader in DJ Sustainability Indices 2015 where we have taken over the leadership position in the Diversified Financials Industry Group of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI). We're proud to be recognized for our commitment to doing what's right for our clients and other stakeholders. Making sustainability the everyday standard at our firm is a cornerstone of our business values. 

Last updated: September 2015