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How is NatWest’s Carbon Planner tackling climate change?

How is NatWest’s Carbon Planner tackling climate change?

In June 2022, banking giant NatWest launched Carbon Planner, a service designed to help businesses in reducing their carbon footprint. To learn more about the solution, Finextra spoke with head of climate change at NatWest, James Close.

The purpose of the Carbon Planner is to facilitate the green transition of businesses in line with the bank’s carbon emissions and climate impact. Operating as a guide for businesses that can input their gas and electricity usage to see their carbon footprint, the program signposts steps that can be taken to become more sustainable. As resources required for businesses in varying sectors differ, NatWest aims to offer a variety of resources accordingly through the personalisation of their services.

Explaining how the planner calculates emissions, Close states: “Those using it are presented with a series of questions. The responses are input into a carbon footprinting model which estimates the carbon footprint. The theoretical foundations of the modelling framework - based on the guidelines provided by the Greenhouse Gas protocol (GHG) – are well founded and understood. However, carbon accounting processes are evolving and Carbon Planner will evolve with them.”

A survey conducted by NatWest revealed that 58% of businesses believed they required financial aid in reducing their carbon emissions, Close stated that the Carbon Planner is a move towards helping companies on their climate journey.

“Carbon Planner is available to all UK businesses and is free. It presents potential solutions, including financing (loans, asset finance, grants) that businesses can explore when seeking to reduce their carbon footprint. We have put a significant number of our relationship managers through the University of Cambridge and University of Edinburgh’s sustainability training so they know how to signpost customers to the most up-to-date support.”

Additionally, NatWest’s Green Loan platform intends to fund companies with green ambitions.

Beyond providing solutions and offering products for companies to cut down their carbon emissions, the planner also tracks their progress towards their sustainability goals. Users are provided the option to mark actions as ‘in progress’ or ‘complete’; therefore the impact of the planner can be observed.

“We know that for growing businesses, their footprint can go up even when they are taking action to reduce it, which is why we will be bringing in more functionality in the future to help these customers see the impact actions are having relative to their size, such as turnover or employee size.”

The pilot for the program ran in November 2021, with NatWest working with thousands of businesses to determine the design and features of the service. Though unable to disclose specific companies, Close informs us that businesses of different maturities from a variety of sectors have adopted the Carbon Planner for their green ambitions moving forward.

Close adds that NatWest plans for the service to develop along with emerging sustainable technology: “The Carbon Planner continues to improve as accounting methods are standardised. NatWest Group has worked with industry specialists and carbon accounting experts to develop the modelling framework. It has been independently reviewed by leading academics and a third party climate consultancy to ensure alignment with the GHG protocol.”

NatWest’s personal green ambitions include halving their climate impact by 2030, hitting net zero by 2050, and funding £100 billion to Climate and Sustainable Funding and Financing between 1 July 2021 and 2025.

Managing climate impact is becoming increasingly significant for businesses in all sectors, as 71% of the world’s carbon emissions can be traced back to a disturbingly small number of large corporations and they need to be held accountable for their impact. In order to prevent further damage, more financial services are embracing sustainable technologies. Furthermore, financial regulators have set guidelines to monitor and control climate risk.

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