9 out of 10 SMEs don’t know business carbon emissions

NatWest Group research has revealed that 87% of UK SMEs are unaware of their business’s total carbon emissions, despite good intentions - with almost half (45%) of UK SMEs recognising it is important to lower their emissions in the near future.

These stark statistics follow NatWest Group’s publication of the Springboard to Sustainability’ report, which detailed that, with the right support the UK’s six million SMEs can contribute to up to 50% of the UK’s Net Zero decarbonisation goals by 2030 worth an estimated £160 billion in revenue.

To help address this crucial gap between intent and knowledge, NatWest Group has launched the NatWest Carbon Tracker app which provides SMEs with an estimate of their carbon footprint. The app, developed in partnership with carbon tracking expert Cogo, will be piloted with eligible SMEs in the manufacturing and transport sectors to allow those SMEs to trial the app, with no fee being payable for use, before NatWest looks to roll the Carbon Tracker out to eligible SMEs more widely. This will help to address the need outlined by almost half (46%) of SMEs who stated they would find an emissions tracker tool helpful.

On downloading the app and linking it to their business accounts, SMEs will be able to review their transactions and estimated carbon footprint, see their estimated emissions over time, and compare them month-on-month. The app also suggests ways that SMEs may be able to reduce carbon emissions and learn more about the support available to help them go greener. These suggestions could include switching to electric vehicles and moving to renewable energy and other changes that could reduce emissions and could save SMEs money on their energy bills.

The SME pilot follows the successful rollout of the carbon footprint tracking feature to retail customers last year in partnership with carbon tracking expert Cogo to help them understand the environmental impact of their spending and to give tips on how they can cut their carbon footprint. More than 150,000 retail customers have used the carbon tracker since launch in November 2021.

Andrew Harrison, Head of Business Banking, NatWest Group said:

“As the UK’s biggest bank for business, we know many SMEs are unsure about where to start on their sustainability journey, and many don’t have the time or resources needed to understand their environmental impact.

“However, with the right support, our research shows that by 2030, it will make financial sense for up to 70% of UK businesses to reduce emissions.

“Opportunities exist across all sectors of the economy, but the Transport, Agriculture, and Industrial sectors provide the most urgent and immediate positive business cases.

“At NatWest, we want to lead the way in helping businesses across the UK to tackle climate change and to grow greener. A free and quick view of their carbon footprint can help businesses move in the right direction to cut emissions, gain a competitive edge, grow and future proof their business as the UK works towards making a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030.”

Emma Kisby, UK and Europe CEO at Cogo said:

"SMEs are absolutely vital to the UK economy. Making up half of turnover in the private sector, they are a key player in addressing the climate challenge.

“As a small business ourselves, we know the challenges and opportunities faced when it comes to making meaningful change in this area. It can be daunting and complex. SMEs need quick and easy solutions that will help them understand their carbon emissions, whilst also highlighting the changes that can make a material difference to reducing their emissions.

“The launch of the SME pilot programme marks an important extension of our already successful partnership with NatWest, with our carbon tracking now available to 8 million of its customers.

“This shows the power of collective action and the magic that can happen when big players in the financial industry partner with sustainability experts. Greater industry collaboration will help us to deliver the scale and pace of change that is needed for our planet.”

Climate Hub – aiming to help SMEs go and grow greener

The NatWest Climate Hub features tips, insights and tools aiming to help all UK SMEs act now to tackle climate change, by reducing emissions and unlocking green growth opportunities. It brings together resources, products and services that address some of the gaps identified in NatWest’s A Springboard to Sustainability report, as well as educating SMEs around the financial benefits of transitioning towards Net Zero. Businesses can find out more at www.natwest.com/climatehub


NatWest Carbon Tracker

This is for media use and not a financial promotion.

Eligible businesses can apply to join the pilot of our carbon tracker app. We’ll initially be piloting the app for 2 to 3 months with up to 500 businesses. We’re looking for businesses who care about the environment, want to understand the impact they’re having and learn more about carbon footprint.
To apply, you will need to:

  • Have a NatWest Business account and be registered for Online Banking
  • Operate in one of the following sectors and sub-sectors:
  • Manufacturing (Textiles/Food and Drink/Construction/Building Materials)
  • Transport (Automotive Sales/Maintenance and Repairs/Automotive Rental/Transport and Logistics)
  • Have an annual turnover of less than £2m
  • Be either a sole trader, partnership or limited company registered and/or with your principal place of business in the UK
  • Have an iPhone 6 or above

We use Open Banking to connect your account and analyse your transaction data.

Terms and conditions apply.

To apply, SMEs should contact a NatWest Relationship Manager to confirm their eligibility or go to www.natwest.com/business/green-banking/carbon-tracker.html

Carbon Footprint Tracker for retail customers

Carbon Footprint Tracker available once opted in via the Spending feature in our app, and is provided in conjunction with CoGo. Spending and app criteria apply.

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