RBS and University of Edinburgh launch £1m programme to help SMEs become climate change leaders



A new partnership designed to empower Scottish companies and help them become climate change leaders has been launched by the University of Edinburgh and Royal Bank of Scotland.

Malcolm Buchanan, chair, Scotland Board, RBS

The £1 million programme, supported by the bank’s 300 Fund, will see experts from the University’s Edinburgh Climate Change Institute and Royal Bank’s business banking specialists work together to help firms identify the opportunities a net zero economy can create while helping them become more sustainable operations in the process.

Being funded by RBS – a principal partner at this year’s COP26 – the partnership is focused on the Small to Medium Size Enterprise (SME) community and aims to assist more than 500 businesses.

ECCI will work closely with the bank to develop the tools, advice and materials that will enable businesses to understand and take action to reduce their climate impact, to fully contribute to tackling climate change, and to identify and realise the business opportunities from being at the forefront of the net-zero economy.

Content will include toolkits, online learning, mentoring and peer-to-peer work that will provide knowledge, training and advice to help SMEs to become key agents in driving a more sustainable and resilient economy.

ECCI is Scotland’s leading centre for research, teaching, policy and practice for climate action, utilising in-house expertise, data and partnerships to deliver real-world impact on climate change.

This programme will ensure small businesses make their vital contribution to Scotland’s national target for net-zero emissions by 2045, and are ready to succeed in the future net-zero economy.

Funding from RBS is being delivered through its 300 Fund - a multi-million-pound initiative created to support projects in Scotland making a positive difference in areas such as climate change, financial capability and enterprise.

It will see £1m a year invested in activities across Scotland until 2027, the year the bank celebrates its 300th anniversary.

Professor Dave Reay, executive director at ECCI and Chair in Carbon Management & Education at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Our Institute brings together unique partnerships to find the most effective ways to tackle the global challenge of climate change. Small businesses have so much to contribute to the transition to a net zero economy, but they need support to understand where they can have most impact and to recognise and respond to the opportunities it presents. We’re delighted to be working alongside the Royal Bank to help their small business customers to be climate champions.”

Malcolm Buchanan, chair, Scotland Board, RBS, added: “We are delighted to work with the University of Edinburgh’s Edinburgh Climate Change Institute to deliver a programme which will make a real difference to the country’s SME community.

“SMEs are the lifeblood of the Scottish economy and as the country prepares to host COP26 in November the work that the ECCI and Royal Bank is about to undertake and the insight it can offer becomes more relevant than ever.

“Royal Bank of Scotland’s 300 Fund aims to support projects which drive meaningful and positive change and as a principal partner for COP26, it feels right to work with the University of Edinburgh to help the country and our communities prepare for a greener future.”



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