ENVIRONMENT MINISTER Elliot Morley has welcomed the contribution being made by Co-op Bank mortgage customers to combat the climate change impact associated with their homes.
The Bank has announced that during the next 12 months its "green" mortgages will contribute around £ 250,000 to help tackle climate change. This will help replant a forest in Uganda, provide fuel-efficient cooking stoves to the poor of Madagascar and lead to the generation of renewable energy in India.
Said Mr Morley: "While significant progress is being delivered through Government-led initiatives, we cannot alone deliver the changes needed to make the transition to a low carbon economy. Business and individuals need to make a contribution in terms of becoming more energy efficient as well.
"The Co-operative Bank mortgage initiative is an innovative example of business partnering with consumers to make a sustainable difference. I'd like to see more businesses follow the Bank's lead by exploring ways of building such features into their products and services."
For every mortgage on its books each year, the Co-op Bank makes a payment to Climate Care, an organisation dedicated to helping combat global warming by countering the emissions of carbon dioxide which are a by-product of energy consumption.
This year, Bank projects will help offset over 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide generated by Bank customers' homes (a fifth of each customers annual emissions from domestic electricity and gas use). Homes produce almost a quarter of the UK's total output of carbon dioxide emissions.
David Anderson, Chief Executive of Co-operative Financial Services commented: "CFS has never shied away from global climate change, arguably the greatest threat facing the world today.
"Since we launched our ‘green mortgages in 2000, the Bank has offset almost 200,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide on behalf of our customers, that's enough to fill 39,000 hot air balloons."
Projects funded by the Bank include:
• Funding a local Madagascan organisation that runs training courses on how to build fuel-efficient stoves. These are built from local natural materials and can produce fuel savings of up to 65 per cent. Approximately 4,000 stoves will be built in 2006. The introduction of these stoves will help reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and pressure on local forestry resources.
• The funding of two 0.33 MW wind turbines in Karnataka, India will displace energy presently generated from fossil fuels. In combination, the turbines are expected to produce enough electricity to power 230 homes.
• The funding of a project to improve household energy efficiency in the Yasin Valley, in northern Pakistan. In this area, temperatures are very severe and work will be undertaken to upgrade insulation, fuel-efficient stoves and water heaters.
• Continued replanting of an area of the Kibale National Park in Uganda with native trees. Much of the park was cut down in the 1960s and 70s, but through the support of the Bank, over 185 hectares of forest have been replanted, providing employment for 400 workers.