NatWest in £100 billion ‘green’ pledge to save environment

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Bank says shift to net zero could boost jobs and business

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ATWEST today set its green credentials ahead of next month’s COP26 environmental conference in Glasgow, pledging £100 billion in funding to fight climate change.

The bank, formerly known as the Royal Bank of Scotland, claims in a report that going net-zero can not only save the environment but also transform the economy.

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It says today that the transition to net-zero could create 30,000 new small firms and 130,000 new jobs. The bank aims to provide £100 billion of climate and sustainable funding by 2025.

It will soon introduce “green loans” for small and medium firms (SMEs) to encourage them to give up carbon wherever possible.

CEO Alison Rose said: “SMEs play a vital role in the UK economy, contributing to around 50% of UK total business and around 60% of employment. We have identified potential opportunities of £160bn for SMEs and the UK economy is recognized, and we want to do everything possible to support our customers in receiving part of that award.

“We are with them every step of the journey that takes them to achieve awareness and understanding, ability to act, and ultimately a positive climate and financial impact.”

Lord Nicholas Stern, President of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and a Special Adviser to NatWest, said: “In the fifteen years since we published the Stern Review, governments and businesses have been slow to recognize the enormous and growing threat Climate change is a stumbling block to economic growth. NatWest’s report is timely and important.”

COP26 – a United Nations gathering of global leaders to discuss the climate crisis – will open on 31 October and is seen in some quarters as almost the last change salon to avert catastrophic climate change.

NatWest, which was rocked last week by a money laundering investigation that faces a £340 million fine, may look like it has something to do.

Skeptics in the city and in the green movement say that for banks to achieve meaningful change – or even their own green goals – they have to be willing to work together in ways that which are not common to the industry.

NatWest, which is still owned by the government but is keen to break free from state control, says its initiative is an “acceleration” of its previous ambitions.

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