High street bank NatWest has pledged to provide £100 billion of Climate and Sustainable Funding and Financing (CSFF) to support the investment needed for transition to net-zero.
The pledge follows a report from the bank that sets out the economic opportunities presented by the transition to more sustainable practices. Research published by NatWest found that SMEs could create up to 130,000 new jobs, 30,000 new businesses could be created, with the transition to net-zero representing an estimated £160 billion opportunity for the UK economy as a whole.
The report also found that SMEs can achieve 50% of the UK’s decarbonisation targets should they receive the proper support and funding. NatWest identified six key recommendations where SMEs need the most support to help them decarbonise their activities.
- Funding Access – financing that reflects the societal benefit of delivering climate action and ensures that business initiatives and investments make financial sense.
- Awareness – support to recognise the opportunity from climate action, highlighting key skills required to transition successfully.
- Knowledge – help to reduce their impact and improve their ability to measure and report their impact.
- Skills and capabilities – support to develop new skills to deliver transition, such as training employees, achieving accreditations and certification, and management capabilities.
- Market access – improved financial certainty of the benefits of broader climate action.
- Navigation – support to navigate the complex and evolving landscape, understanding what support is available and what will most benefit their business.
Alison Rose, Chief Executive, NatWest Group said:
“According to the Springboard to Sustainable Recovery report published today, SMEs play a critical role in the UK economy, contributing around 50% of total UK turnover and around 60% of employment. We have identified the potential opportunities as being worth £160bn for SMEs and the UK economy, and we want to do everything possible to support our customers in achieving a share of that prize. This report is the response to what our business customers are telling us they need in terms of practical support as they face a complex decision-making process.
“We are with them on every step of the journey that takes them from awareness and understanding, to ability to act, and finally to achieving positive climate and financial impact. Our ambition to play a leading role in the UK’s transition to a net zero economy is why we are targeting £100 billion of Climate and Sustainable Funding and Financing by the end of 2025.
“I’m firmly of the view that we should never underestimate the power of the small – and in this instance SMEs – for leveraging big advances. What this report tells us, in clear numbers, is that all sectors of the economy will need to play their part in helping the UK achieve its climate ambitions. We must look at this not just as an imperative, but as an opportunity for businesses.”
The NatWest report into the economic opportunity presented by the transition to net-zero carbon emissions was created in consultation with partners including McKinsey, Microsoft, British Chambers of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses, CBI, Blackrock, CoGo, HVM Catapult, ScaleUp Institute and National Farmers Union (NFU); it is available to download in full here.