Net zero could boost regional economy by £33bn

A new report from NatWest says North West and West Midlands economies could benefit to the tune of a combined £33bn in the push to net zero. Tony McDonough reports

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Retrofitting buildings with energy-saving measures could boost SMEs in the region, says NatWest


Investment into decarbonisation could benefit the North West and West Midlands economies by £33bn, a new report claims.

Banking giant NatWest has published the findings of its 2022 Springboard to Sustainable Recovery report. It estimates that between now and 2030 the drive to net zero offers huge growth opportunities to regional economies.

It says Merseyside and the North West requires a 128% growth rate in the number of SMEs. These will be needed to provide retrofitting services to outdated homes and premises to reach net zero targets. A further 36% growth in SMEs is required to service the  renewable electricity sector

The business case for decarbonisation has strengthened in line with increasing energy prices, it adds. For example, installing a heat pump pays back in half the time that it would have taken in 2021.

NatWest’s report states North West and West Midlands building sector is the largest potential revenue for SMEs in the area. It accounts for 77% of the revenue opportunity that could be realised through the delivery of improvements to buildings.

And current projections show the number of SMEs working in renewables delivering infrastructure such as EV charging points, wind turbines and solar panels will need grow by 36% by 2030 to realise this opportunity.

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At the UK level, the economy could benefit from a potential £175bn revenue opportunity by 2030. This will create an estimated 260,000 new jobs. With the right support SMEs could contribute up to 50% of UK 2030 emission targets through pursuing decarbonisation.

Alison Rose, chief executive of NatWest Group, said: “The imperative to tackle climate change – still the biggest single issue facing humanity – is more pressing than ever.

“But in the context of a turbulent macroeconomic environment, with the prospect of a recession in the UK, and the increased cost of living due to rising prices, SMEs in the UK face tighter case flows and fears for the future of their business.

“Yet against this backdrop, we find that SMEs across the UK are well placed and pivotal to drive the next decade of decarbonisation in the UK, and to harness growing revenue opportunities.”

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