NatWest vows to fund £100bn of eco-friendly finance to combat climate change

By Aisling Finn on Thursday 14 October 2021

Digital Banking

The bank is pledging to support SMEs to help spur on the shift to sustainable finance.

NatWest vows to fund £100bn of eco-friendly finance to combat climate change
Image source: Alison Rose/NatWest.

Green finance is here to stay and NatWest has just pledged a huge sum of money to help ensure that.

The bank has promised a whopping £100bn of climate and sustainable funding and financing for its customers by the end of 2025.

As well as pledging the £100bn, NatWest is also planning to launch an SME green loan—an approach favoured off the back of the Springboard to Sustainable Recovery report, co-authored by NatWest and several other financial institutions, which found the UK’s carbon reduction can be delivered by SMEs.

SMEs can help reduce the UK’s carbon footprint through funding, knowledge and training—all things NatWest will help to achieve under its new initiative.

“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,” Alison Rose, CEO of the NatWest Group said.

“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.”

By supporting SMEs to promote greener practices, NatWest also estimates that 130,000 new jobs could be created and produce around 30,000 new businesses, equating to a £160bn opportunity for the UK economy.

“This report by NatWest is timely and important and makes it clear that the UK’s small, startups and innovative firms need support to capitalise on the emerging opportunities from the transition to a low-carbon economy,” Lord Nicholas Stern, Chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and Environment, added.

“Fifteen years from now, we will know whether we will succeed or fail to meet the UK’s net-zero target, and the UK’s SMEs will play a defining role in the outcome.”

As well as launching a new green SME loan, NatWest is also gearing up to launch a specialist accelerator for clean transport and circular economy, a carbon footprint monitoring tool for SMEs and implement mandatory climate training for all of its relationship managers.

Perhaps looking for some good press and just ahead of the COP26, NatWest has timed the launch of its £100bn pledge well. 

Just a week ago, news broke that the bank plead guilty to money laundering failings, with the NatWest facing a £340m fine as a result.

NatWest failed to prevent the laundering of nearly £400m after a client was able to deposit £365m in an account over five years, of which £264m was in cash.

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