A report published by NatWest sets out the potential opportunity that exists for the UK economy from the transition to net zero, finding that SMEs could create up to 130,000 new jobs, produce around 30,000 new businesses and result in an estimated £160 billion opportunity for the UK economy.
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The report finds that there is a significant opportunity for the UK to be a global leader in the transition to net zero.
The report also found that the UK’s Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can achieve 50% of the UK’s Net Zero decarbonisation goals, if they receive the right support through funding, knowledge, and training.
NatWest has announced a series of initiatives, leading with a target to provide £100 billion of Climate and Sustainable Funding and Financing (CSFF) by the end of 2025.
Part of this new CSFF target will help to support the investment needed to transition the UK to a net zero economy and will help to support the bank’s customers including SMEs on their transition to a net zero and a more sustainable economy.
While the report’s finding that less than 10% of SMEs currently see climate action as a source of future growth, it found that SMEs have two distinct opportunities to create value from delivering climate action: driving business value by reducing their own emissions and unlocking growth through wider climate action.
With the right support, the vast majority of SMEs could benefit financially from reducing their carbon footprint, and through supporting the UK’s transition by delivering activity like residential retrofitting, installing renewable power equipment, upgrades to the electricity grid and installing electric vehicle charge points.
The report calls on financial institutions, government, industry bodies and large corporates to play their role in collectively supporting SMEs to unlock the climate opportunity.
NatWest also plans to launch a new green loan product for SME customers, new specialist Accelerators for Clean Transport and Circular Economy, new tools for businesses to monitor their carbon footprint, and mandatory climate training for all its relationship managers in collaboration with University of Cambridge and University of Edinburgh. ■