NatWest, Microsoft partner to help UK firms reduce emissions
With the aim of helping UK businesses both understand and tackle their carbon footprints, British banking group NatWest and Microsoft have joined forces and together will leverage technologies to create tailored action sustainability plans.
This collaboration follows research conducted by NatWest on 500 of its business customers, 88% of businesses said reducing their indirect emissions, such as those in their supply chains, is difficult to get external for, while 41% said reducing indirect emissions was ‘very challenging’ or ‘incredibly challenging’ for them.
The research found that for businesses who hadn’t yet begun their sustainability transition, the biggest barriers faced was a lack of information and data, and lack or resource of funding.
As the leading bank in the UK for businesses, NatWest Group has a “significant responsibility” as well as “the ability to encourage, enable and to lead the way in the UK to transition to a net zero carbon economy”, says Alison Rose, CEO of NatWest Group. And this cross-industry collaboration with Microsoft “will help accelerate the speed of the transition”.
Due to be piloted later this year, the initiative merges Microsoft’s cloud, data and AI platform and NatWest’s deep customer understanding, and demonstrates a deep commitment by both companies not just to tackle their own climate impacts, but to support other businesses in doing so.
NatWest to be climate positive by 2025
Having achieved net zero in 2020, the banking group has further pledged to make its own operations climate positive by 2025, as well as to halve the climate impact of its financing activity by 2030. And with the aim of helping others, published its first-ever ESG supplement, which brings together non-financial disclosures to help investors and other stakeholders understand the bank’s progress against its purpose.
The bank has also recently finished its anlalysis of its financing to the oil and gas extraction, automative manufacturing and agrictulreu sectors as well as to residential mortgage properties, which represent 45% of its book, making it the first bank to publish such data. Finally, the banking group is set to join the growing coalition or organisations in the Race to Zero, championed by the UK COP26 presidency and others.
Microsoft to be carbon negative by 2030
Microsoft meanwhile announced earlier this year that it would be carbon negative by 2030 and furthermore would remove more carbon from the environment than it has emitted since its inception by 2050.
According to Clare Barclay, CEO, Microsoft UK: "At Microsoft we grounded our carbon negative strategy in the belief that technology can help solve the world's biggest challenges. We are focused upon pulling all of the levers of influence we have including our operations as a customer, supplier, investor, employer, policy advocate and partner."
Four CPG giants to fund sustainable accelerator programme
Breakthrough ideas can come from anywhere and anyone. That’s the premise behind the coming together of The Coca-Cola Company, Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive in the funding and support of world-leading brewer AB InBev’s 100+ Accelerator program.
These four consumer packaged goods multinationals will leverage both their size and resources to fast-track a shift toward sustainable solutions by mobilising some of the world’s sharpest thinkers to solve some of the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges.
The aim of this collaboration is to “supercharge adoption of sustainable solutions by funding the accelerating fantastic innovations that will change the world by making all of our businesses more sustainable”, says Tony Milkin, chief procurement, sustainability and circular ventures officer at AB InBev.
“Sustainable business is smart business, and we are working to solve huge problems that no one company can handle alone. With our combined global reach, we can accelerate progress towards a more sustainable future.”
What is the 100+ Accelerator program?
Originally launched in 2018, 100+ Accelerator is a global incubator program that aims to solve key supply chain challenges across water stewardship, circular economy, sustainable agriculture and climate action.
It offers size and scale to passionate entrepreneurs to help bring their solutions to market faster, and the program’s first two cohorts have already piloted 36 innovations in 16 countries, with participating startups raising more than US$200m to help them scale globally.
Among the established innovators are those already creating huge impact on sustainability, with projects including the first solar thermal plant in Africa, recycled electric vehicle batteries that store renewable electricity in China, and upcycling saved grains from the brewing process to produce nutritious foods in the US.
- The implementation of green cleaning solutions to reduce water and energy use in brewing operations in Colombia
- Solutions delivering traceability and insurance for smallholder farmers in Africa and South America
- The collection of more than 1,000 tons of glass waste in Brazil
- Piloting returnable packaging in the United States
- Recycled electric vehicle batteries that store renewable electricity in China
- The ability to upcycle saved grains from the brewing process to produce nutritious foods in the United States
- The first solar thermal system to be installed at an AB InBev plant
How will the new program work?
So, how does it work? Applications are invited from entrepreneurs or small businesses (deadline for cohort 3 is May 31 2021) and the partners will choose 20-25 ideas which are then provided with funding.
Project aligned with goals of the CPG multinationals
The participation by all three consumer packaged goods giants is in line with each of their own sustainability goals, with each passionate about transforming global supply chains towards a greener future, and knowledgeable that “we can achieve our purpose faster and more effectively with equally committed partners”, says Patricia Verduin, CTO of Colgate.
Since launching its World Without Waste sustainable packaging platform, Coca-Cola has actively engaged the startup community for inspiration and innovation and is an inaugural investor in Circulate Capital, a fund launched in 2019 focused on ventures, infrastructure and innovations preventing the flow of plastic into oceans.
The program’s social inequality component is also aligned with Unilever’s values. “This year, we made commitments to ensure that everyone who directly provides us with goods and services receives a living wage by 2030,” says Marc Engel, chief supply chain officer of Unilever. But that’s not all. “We’re increasing our spend with suppliers from underrepresented groups and committed to train 10 million young people.”