The UK’s six million SMEs can achieve 50% of the country’s net zero decarbonisation goals if given the right support in funding, knowledge and training.
That’s the claim of a new report published by NatWest, which has committed to providing £100 billion of climate and sustainable finance by the end of 2025.
The finance will be used to help the bank’s customers including SMEs start on their transition to becoming net zero businesses and instigating a more sustainable economy.
The report reveals that less than 10% of SMEs currently consider climate change a source of future growth – but business value can be heavily driven by reducing their own emissions and growth can be unlocked through wider climate action.
It stresses that with the right support, the country’s SMEs could benefit financially from transitioning to net zero; saving energy; upgrading infrastructure and providing more jobs.
NatWest is calling on financial institutions, government, industry bodies and large corporates to help support smaller businesses on their sustainable journey and lists six areas that are key to this: Funding access, awareness, knowledge, skills and capabilities, market access and navigation.
NatWest has also committed to halving its financed emissions by 2030 and becoming a net zero business by 2050.
Alison Rose, Chief Executive, said: “We have identified the potential opportunities as being worth £160 billion 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.
“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.”
If you are an SME looking to start on your net zero journey, then check out our Standard here – which we set up to help smaller companies tackle the obstacles of tracking carbon and understanding their footprint.