Our climate change commitment

Climate change is one of the most significant challenges of our time. The world's key environmental and social challenges, such as population growth, energy security, loss of biodiversity and access to drinking water and food, are all closely intertwined with climate change. This makes the transition to a low-carbon economy vital.

We recognize that financial institutions are increasingly expected to play a key role in the transition to a low-carbon economy and, we are determined to support our clients in preparing for success in an increasingly carbon-constrained world. As one of the leading wealth management firms worldwide, and the leading universal bank in Switzerland backed by a top asset management business and a client-centered investment bank, our climate change strategy focuses on the following areas. It is in these areas where we believe we can make the greatest contribution to the transition towards a low-carbon economy:

  • Risk management: seeking to protect our clients', and our own, assets from climate change risks, within our sphere of influence. Recognizing that the transition to a low-carbon economy will take time and that fossil fuels will continue to dominate energy production for decades to come, we are determined to understand the risks that our clients', and our own, assets are exposed to in the context of uncertain policy and technology developments addressing climate change. This includes developing a metrics-based approach to measure our exposure to climate change risks in high-risk sectors such as real estate and energy.
  • Investments: helping to mobilize private and institutional capital towards investments facilitating climate change mitigation and adaptation. Our clients will continue to look for investment opportunities and some will increasingly focus on investments facilitating climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  • Finance: supporting this transition as corporate advisor, and/or with our lending capacity. We are helping corporate clients raise capital on domestic/international capital markets in order to meet the high investment levels required for the transition to a low-carbon economy. In Switzerland, we are also supporting private clients in renovating their private homes sustainably and innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in providing solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  • Research: offering world-class research capacity to our clients on climate change issues. Building on our renowned expertise, we act as a thought leader and expert advisor to our clients on financial impacts of, and solutions for, climate change.
  • In-house operations: reducing our own greenhouse gas footprint. We are positioning our in-house operations in support of a low-carbon economy by further investing in sustainable real estate and efficient IT infrastructure and limiting business travel-related CO2 emissions.
  • Engagement & disclosure: reporting and communicating transparently about the progress of our strategy. We are engaging with our stakeholders on climate change issues and continue to raise awareness among our employees. In addition, we are disclosing the progress we have made in executing our climate strategy through established standards, such as the Global Reporting Initiative and the Carbon Disclosure Project.

These efforts build on a history and strong track record of reducing our environmental footprint in a consistent and transparent manner. In the reporting year 2012, we reached our ambitious goal set in 2006 to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% compared with 2004 baseline levels. A target on which we delivered successfully by adopting energy efficiency measures to reduce the energy consumption of the buildings we occupy, and of critical facilities such as the data centers we use, while increasing the proportion of renewable energy used. Emissions that cannot be reduced by other means (e.g. business air travel) are offset. Our achievements have been recognized by external experts, in particular by the most significant climate-change-focused investors' initiative, the Carbon Disclosure Project, which in 2012 ranked UBS as one of the top 10 companies worldwide for excellence in transparency and achievement in combating climate change.

We will regularly report on the progress we make in executing our new climate change strategy which, in 2013, will focus on the following elements:

  • Participating in an industry-wide initiative to develop accounting metrics for CO2 emissions associated with lending and investments;
  • Reducing the environmental impact of our Global Real Estate investment portfolios;
  • Offering the "Energy Check Up for SME" to Swiss SMEs in partnership with the Swiss Private Sector Energy Agency and renewing the cash bonus to support private clients in renovating their private homes sustainably;
  • Launching UBS Clean Energy Infrastructure Switzerland for institutional clients to invest in renewable energy infrastructure;
  • Continuing to support renewable energy and clean technology financing through our Investment Bank;
  • Developing UBS Sustainability Health Check, which will allow Wealth Management clients to identify discrepancies between their sustainability preferences (including climate change) and the composition of their portfolio;
  • Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 50% compared with 2004 baseline levels, another 15% below 2012 levels, and reducing our overall energy consumption by 10% compared with 2012 levels, by the year 2016.