It says today that a transition to net-zero could create 30,000 new small firms and 130,000 new jobs. The bank aims to make £100 billion of climate and sustainable funding available by 2025.
It will soon launch a “green loan” for small and medium firms (SMEs) to encourage them to ditch carbon wherever possible.
CEO Alison Rose said: “SMEs play a critical role in the UK economy, contributing around 50% of total UK turnover and around 60% of employment. We have identified the potential opportunities as being worth £160bn for SMEs and the UK economy, and we want to do everything possible to support our customers in achieving a share of that prize.
“We are with them on every step of the journey that takes them from awareness and understanding, to ability to act, and finally to achieving positive climate and financial impact.”
Lord Nicholas Stern, chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and Environment and a special advisor to NatWest, said: “In the fifteen years since we published the Stern Review, governments and businesses have been slow to recognise the enormous and growing threat that climate change poses to economic development. This report by NatWest is timely and important.”
The COP26 - a UN gathering of global leaders to discuss the climate crisis - will open on October 31 and is seen in some quarters as almost a last change saloon to prevent catastrophic climate change.
NatWest, which was last week rocked by a money laundering investigation that leaves it facing a fine of £340 million, may feel it has some making up to do.
Sceptics in the City and in the green movement say that for banks to achieve meaningful change - or even to hit their own green targets - they have to be willing to work together in ways that are not usual for the industry.
NatWest, still majority owned by the government but keen to be free from state control, says its initiatives are an “acceleration” of its previous ambitions.