The past year has been a challenging one for many businesses — there has been a lot to contend with in relation to both the coronavirus pandemic and also the UK’s exit from the EU. So, to see such a fantastic entry level to the awards, and also the calibre of the shortlist and winners, has been extremely encouraging.
And from our perspective as a bank, recognising good work in relation to climate change has been one of the most satisfying aspects of the awards. For many companies, climate change perhaps hasn’t been high on their list of priorities during the pandemic. But climate change will, no doubt, move further and further up the agenda for companies, such is its importance. And indeed, the green economy provides an opportunity for jobs and growth. That is why we have been so pleased to support the new award in this year’s Belfast Telegraph Business Awards, in partnership with Ulster Bank, to recognise climate action by companies.
Action on climate change is extremely important to Ulster Bank and our parent bank NatWest. Tackling climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time and as a leading bank, we have a significant responsibility, and the ability, to encourage, enable and lead the way to transition to a net zero carbon economy.
Our CEO Alison Rose has outlined the bank’s strong commitments in this area, which includes reducing the bank’s own impact on the environment by offsetting our carbon footprint and making our own buildings and activities more energy efficient, and also by looking at what we’re funding.
Our partnership with Octopus Energy, a leading sustainable energy supplier, also helps us support customers to move their fleets towards electric vehicles. And further training our people is another area of focus so that we can help customers to make choices and investments to reduce their impact on the environment.
A signal of NatWest Group’s commitment in this area is its partnership with the COP26 climate summit in November. The bank also achieved net zero carbon in 2020 and plans to be climate positive for our own operations by 2025. We believe that having the award for climate action into this year’s Belfast Telegraph Business Awards was the right thing to do and we know that companies locally are doing really good things to reduce their carbon footprint. I have no doubt this is a category that will continue to gain momentum in the years ahead, and we can showcase some best practice in a way that encourages more and more companies to play a positive role in addressing the climate challenge.