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UK's NatWest to tighten coal sector lending in gradual phase out

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's NatWest will not lend to any new customers operating coal-fired power plants or to existing clients planning to increase their capacity, in a move to toughen its policy on climate change.

"We have committed to not lend new money to new coal projects, to phase out lending to coal in the UK by 2024, and globally by 2030," its chief executive Alison Rose told Reuters.

The British banking group's move comes as global leaders met at the United Nations COP26 climate summit in Scotland, where the finance sector is being pushed to accelerate action to help cap global warming.

As part of the tougher line on coal, the most polluting of fossil fuels, NatWest said it would stop lending to those engaged in the coal industry in Britain by October 2024, in line with government policy.

The new rule will apply to both UK and non-UK customers who have UK coal production, coal fired generation and coal related infrastructure, a bank policy document seen by Reuters shows.

NatWest, which on Thursday was one of a number of companies to join the Powering Past Coal Alliance, retained its target of phasing out all coal-sector lending globally by 2030 and confirmed it would start on Jan. 1.

"I think those targets allow the industry to rewire and reconfigure," Rose told Reuters in an interview.

(Reporting by Simon Jessop; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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