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Climate change ‘one of biggest challenges of our times’, says Ulster Bank’s Cormac McKervey

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Cormac McKervey is senior agriculture manager at Ulster Bank

Cormac McKervey is senior agriculture manager at Ulster Bank

Shane O'Neill / Fennells

Cormac McKervey is senior agriculture manager at Ulster Bank

Tackling climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time and an issue which is extremely important to Ulster Bank and our parent bank NatWest.

As a purpose-led bank, we have a significant responsibility, and the ability, to encourage and enable others to transition to a net zero carbon economy.

It is for this reason we are so pleased to support the new award in this year’s Belfast Telegraph Business Awards, in partnership with Ulster Bank, to recognise climate action and commend a local company demonstrating a significant commitment to sustainable business practices.

With so much for businesses here to contend with during the past two years in terms of the coronavirus pandemic and the UK’s exit from the EU, it is understandable that for some, climate change has slipped down the agenda.

But given its importance and the genuine emergency we now face it is time to prioritise the response and for businesses here to grasp the job and growth opportunities that a green economy can provide.

As the banking sponsor of the recent COP26 conference, our CEO Alison Rose used the partnership to outline the bank’s strong commitments in this area which starts with reducing our own impact on the environment.

We are offsetting our carbon footprint and making buildings and activities more energy efficient, but also looking carefully at what we’re funding.

Following the conference, the NatWest Group announced it would stop lending and underwriting major oil and gas producers, unless they have a credible transition plan in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The group has also announced its ambition to provide £100bn of climate and sustainable funding and financing to customers by the end of 2025 and has made green loans and green asset finance arrangements available to assist SMEs in fulfilling their own sustainability ambitions.

Here, our teams of relationship managers are also being trained and equipped to have climate related discussions with customers about things like EPC certificates, renewable energy, and the use of landfill, and we’ve committed to having 25% of places or more in our Entrepreneur Accelerator going to green businesses.

SMEs have a critical role to play in helping Northern Ireland tackle climate change which is why we believe it is so important to include an award for climate action in this year’s Belfast Telegraph Business Awards.

By showcasing the success of companies who are already making strides in this field, we hope we can encourage others to think seriously about improving their own practices.

Our message to these companies is that we are here to help you on this journey and will provide information and funding, as well as incentives such as loans and asset financing in order to support sustainability.

We cannot underestimate the power of small changes to make a big impact and a move to a green economy will undoubtedly bring benefits for us all.

I am looking forward to hearing from companies locally who are already doing good things to reduce their carbon footprint and am confident that there will be some strong entries to this category.

Cormac McKervey is senior agriculture manager and climate lead at Ulster Bank



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