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Breathe a little easier with Barclaycard 09.07.07

Barclay’s Breathe

Barclay’s Bank has launched the Breathe credit card, with a promise to donate 50% of the cards profits to carbon emission reduction projects round the world. The card will also offer enhanced discounts on green options from British Gas, to Natural Collection.

Barclaycard Breathe will also help consumers make greener choices by offering discounts and lower rates on green products, for example energy saving products and greener transport options. Discounts include “25 off your first annual bill from ecotricity, and % off list price at So Organics, Natural Collection, Ecoelectrical Goods, Halfords, Hertz Green car range, crocus gardening and tree2mydoor. The list is expected to expand fast.

The card itself offers a greener customer experience with no paper statements, marketing directed through online channel, cards made from PETg - a more environmentally friendly alternative to current PVC cards - and a recycling scheme for old cards when new cards are issued. Commenting on the new card, Antony Jenkins, Barclaycard Chief Executive said: “Barclaycard Breathe makes it easy for people to do their bit in the fight against climate change by offering incentives to make being green easier and supporting projects around the world that help reduce carbon emissions.”

Profit donations made by Barclaycard Breathe will be administered by an independent third party who will select projects to be supported and certify that these have helped reduce carbon emissions. Barclaycard will send regular online updates to customers about how much has been donated and which projects have been supported.

Barclays has been investing heavily in promoting itself as a green financial institution. The bank estimates that its UK carbon footprint is made up of 80% energy use and 20% business travel Barclays climate change programme centres around five core projects.

Firstly, reducing CO2 emissions by 20% by 2010 (using 2000 as the baseline year.) Reduce energy consumption in offices and branches by 20% per full time employee. Carbon intensity is a measure of emissions relative to business growth and it allows comparisons to be made between companies. Barclays aim to reduce carbon intensity from 16.8 tonnes to 12.9 tonnes CO2 per £1m of UK income.

Secondly move the bank over to using renewable energy. 50% of Barclays UK electricity consumption now comes from renewable sources, compared to 3% previously.

The third move is to use offsetting of the remaining CO2 emissions to reach an overall carbon neutral position.

On the customer side they aim to offer products and services that help our customers to reduce their impact on climate change, such as the Breathe card.

Lastly is the carbon and currency idea, whereby customers buying foreign currency are invited to calculate their holiday’s carbon footprint and offset it through Carbon Care.

A range of Green cards are available including Amex Red, and a range from the Co-operative Bank’s which donate to a charity of the card holders choice.

The sting is of course in the fact that the card donates 50% of its profits, credit card profits come from interest charged to late payers. If you pay your card on time then in effect you are create a loss for the bank. It may be more cost effective to pay your card on time, and then donate to a cause of your choice independently of any scheme.

Peter Shield

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