Capital One’s Continued Climate Change Journey

Addressing climate change is fundamental to ensuring our world has a healthy and prosperous future

At Capital One, we believe addressing climate change is fundamental to ensuring our world has a healthy and prosperous future. As a responsible company on a mission to change banking for good, it’s our duty to limit the environmental impact of our entire value chain. It’s simply the right thing to do.

Since 2015, Capital One has invested over $7 billion in environmentally responsible projects. We are committed to continuously improving the sustainability of our business. While we have made progress in our climate journey and regularly evaluate that progress, we will continue to evolve our goals and strategies as our business (and the world) changes and grows. 

Today, we are excited to share our updated sustainability goals.

Supporting Renewable Energy

Increasing the availability of renewable energy and transitioning away from carbon intensive sources is essential to addressing climate change. Capital One began purchasing renewable energy in 2008. In 2017, we established and met our goal that 100% of our electricity comes from renewable sources. In 2018, we became a member of RE100, a collaborative initiative of global companies committed to 100% renewable electricity. In 2018, our first on-site solar project was installed at a new location in Richmond, VA. Moving forward, we will increase the amount of renewable energy procured within our local markets. 

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Capital One has set greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals for over a decade and in 2018, we achieved carbon neutrality for our Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, as well as Scope 3 business travel emissions. However, climate science continues to evolve and we recognize that for the world to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, achieving carbon neutrality through offsetting is not enough. Collectively, we must decarbonize the economy and remove CO2 from the atmosphere. That’s why Capital One has leveraged tools provided by the Science-Based Target Initiative (SBTI), a collaboration among The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), to develop our new greenhouse gas reduction target. 

By 2030 Capital One is committed to:

  • Reducing Scope 1 Direct Emissions by 50%
  • Continuing to purchase 100% renewable energy while increasing location-aligned procurement by 50% in the markets where we operate
  • Reducing Scope 3 Emissions (Categories 1-14) by 50%

We  will continue to re-evaluate our GHG reduction targets in light of the most recent climate science and as SBTI criteria for financial services companies is finalized. In alignment with SBTI criteria, we will no longer use carbon offsets to achieve our GHG reduction targets and will no longer claim to be carbon neutral. 

Capital One inventories and verifies our GHG emissions through a reputable third-party, with emissions reported annually to CDP.

Internal Price on Carbon

Economists agree that a carbon tax offers the most cost-effective lever to reduce carbon emissions at the scale and speed necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. In May 2019, Capital One joined other leading companies on Capitol Hill to advocate for a national price on carbon. This May, we met again (virtually this time!).

In addition to our support for a national price on carbon, Capital One has established an internal price on carbon starting at $15.00 per metric ton of CO2e. This carbon fee creates a monetary value on each ton of carbon emissions in our carbon footprint, which creates a financial incentive, helping us to reduce emissions while establishing a dedicated revenue stream to fund our carbon reduction efforts and sustainability initiatives.

Addressing the Water Crisis

In 2020, the World Economic Forum included “water crises'' as a top five risk in terms of global impact. Water is essential for life and is foundational to the health and well-being of our planet’s ecosystems. Recent water crises in Chennai India, Cape Town South Africa and Flint Michigan have demonstrated how precarious this essential resource can be.  

One step in addressing this global issue is to reduce our own water footprint. Capital One will reduce the amount of water we use in our offices, branches and cafes across the world 20% by 2025. We will achieve this through water efficiency projects in our offices, cafes and branches, as well as reducing landscape irrigation through native landscaping and xeriscaping.

As we look to the future, all other Capital One climate goals remain in place. We will continue to:

  • Purchase Environmentally Preferred Paper (EPP) for at least 95% of the paper we procure for operations, which means it will certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or contain 30% post-consumer recycled content.
  • Pursue US Green Building Council  (USGBC) certification of LEED Silver or higher on all new office locations or comprehensive renovations.

There is an obvious movement within our culture to do meaningful work – work that allows us to live according to our values, make a difference in our communities, and leave the world a little better than we found it. That’s our hope Capital One's sustainability journey. 


NOTE: Scope 1 GHG emissions are direct emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by Capital One. Scope 2 GHG emissions are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy. Scope 3 GHG emissions are all indirect emissions (not included in Scope 2) that occur in the value chain of the reporting company, including both upstream and downstream emissions. 

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