Compared to many manufacturing companies, the environmental impacts of our commercial operations as a service provider in the financial sector are relatively slight, deriving principally from business trips taken by our employees and their commuting to and from work as well as the operation of our office premises. Nevertheless, we take our responsibility for the environment very seriously. Through the efficient use of resources and energy we play a positive part in fighting climate change. Operational environmental protection is therefore a major concern for us. In our Sustainability Strategy and in our environmental programme we define concrete targets and measures for protecting the environment and conserving resources. Our environmental management system is certified annually, since 2016 according to the revised standard DIN EN ISO 14001:2015. Since 2016 we have additionally published annually a validated EMAS III Environmental Statement in fulfilment of the Europe-wide legal requirement to perform energy audits.
The focus of our efforts to conserve the environment is on reducing CO2 emissions caused by our business travel and by the supply of electricity and heat to our premises. Since 2016 we have operated at the Hannover location with a carbon-neutral footprint. The changeover to renewable energy in 2012 and the offsetting of greenhouse gas emissions caused by air travel through payments to the non-profit organisation atmosfair were key factors in this achievement. We plan to progressively roll out the switch to electricity from renewable energy sources at our international offices as well. Furthermore, in 2018 we began to keep a record for our Asia-Pacific locations of the emissions caused by air travel, the bulk of which we have already offset. In addition, we make every effort to ensure the economical and resource-saving use of materials and raw materials such as paper and water at our offices. We regularly record central consumption and emissions data for our head office in Hannover and constantly seek to reduce our consumption. The same is true of the volume of waste. We monitor our waste disposal according to the type and quantity of waste.
We actively support the work of local and international initiatives for climate protection. In 2018, as in the previous years, we participated in the survey conducted by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). Information related to climate change is published here with a special orientation towards the capital market. In 2018 we achieved a "C" score (corresponding to the third-best level). In 2019 we again participated in the CDP survey.
As part of the "Climate Alliance Hannover 2020" initiative we have undertaken to emit altogether 40% less harmful greenhouse gases by 2020 than in 1990. Under the "Climate Alliance" we additionally participate in the Business Strategy Group of the "Master Plan 2050 for the City and Region of Hannover, 100% for Climate Protection".
Since 2007 we have also taken part in the "Ecological Project for Integrated Environmental Technology" (Ecoprofit) of the Greater Hannover region. The underlying idea of the project is to combine economic gain and ecological benefit through preventive environmental protection. The participating companies are regularly involved in work on specific topics such as "Ecoprofit in the Urban Development Process" and "Current Changes in Energy Management". The energy-saving successes already achieved are regularly publicised in the relevant project publications.
Since mid-2017 the offsets that we pay to atmosfair have been used to provide targeted support for emissions reduction projects in Rwanda and Nepal. In Rwanda, the payment of household subsidies for efficient ovens cuts firewood consumption by 80% in an effort to bring down CO2 emissions. In addition, overexploitation of forests through logging is reduced and the habitat of endangered mountain gorillas is protected. In Nepal, we work together with atmosfair to promote small-scale biogas systems for households that currently use non-renewable energy resources. These small biogas systems are installed in households that own at least two livestock, such as cattle, buffalo etc. The biogas is channelled to gas cookers through pipes, hence eliminating the need for firewood. Moreover, by connecting the toilet to the system it is also possible to improve the hygiene situation in the households and prevent the build-up of fumes. In 2018 we spent a total amount of around EUR 185,000 on these two projects.
In addition, we are a member of the "Ruschlikon e-administration in (Re)insurance" initiative of the Association for Cooperative Operation Research and Development (ACORD). ACORD is a global non-profit insurance organisation working to develop standards for the (re)insurance industry and related financial services providers. Among other things, its system makes possible the paperless processing of official documents and hence opens up potential savings in paper consumption. In the year under review another large broker and one primary insurer were connected to the system. It is envisaged that a further large reinsurance broker will be connected by the end of 2019. The goal is to process most loss advices and posting transactions electronically in the future.
We also participate actively in the Geneva Association working group on "Extreme Events and Climate Risks". For further information please see the chapter on "Product responsibility".