The boss of NatWest has said that nearly a quarter of the carbon emissions that its borrowers emit come from farms, despite only a fraction of its loans going to the agriculture sector, as she stressed the importance of working with companies to help them cut their environmental impact.
Speaking in a short film made on behalf of charities WWF, RSPB and National Trust, Alison Rose said that her company supports 40,000 farmers across the country.
But despite only 2% of NatWest’s loans going to these farmers, they account for close to 19% of the carbon emissions on the bank’s balance sheet, Ms Rose said.
“If I want to halve my emissions I’m not going to stop lending to agriculture, so I now need to develop, having measured it, how do we help make a transition that is supportable, sustainable for the future that allows us to reduce our emissions but in a just and fair way?” she added.
It came as Steve Waygood, chief responsible investment officer at Aviva, warned that the world could face “civilisational collapse” by the end of this century.
But he added that there is enough money in the global financial system to solve both the climate and nature crisis if it is invested well.
“Where we’re heading to by the end of the century is potentially as extreme as civilisational collapse,” Mr Waygood said.
“It is estimated that in 2021 economic losses due to natural catastrophes was 270 billion dollars.
“Roughly 400 trillion of capital is out there in the global financial system. We know that is many times what is needed to solve the climate crisis, the nature crisis, simultaneously.”
He added: “For me, nature-positive is a mindset. It’s a guiding rule for how the board should think.
“Every decision that’s made really should think about its consequences on nature and also how nature itself provides constraints for the business’s growth going forwards.”
The three charities called on companies to put nature at the heart of every decision they make in the boardroom. Businesses have a major impact on the natural world across their value chains, they added.
In a joint statement, National Trust director general Hilary McGrady, RSPB boss Beccy Speight, and Tanya Steele, the head of WWF, said: “We need all hands on deck to tackle the nature and climate crisis and we won’t get the speed of change necessary without the support of businesses and their leaders.
“Nature underpins everything – it is our life support system and the foundation of our health, our jobs, and our nation’s wealth.
“Businesses must publish nature-positive transition plans that leave no room for greenwash.”