People pass a branch of The Royal Bank of Scotland in central London August 27, 2014. — Reuters pic

RBS profit surges, as bank’s new CEO sets climate goal

LONDON, Feb 14 — Royal Bank of Scotland today said its net profit almost doubled last year to £3.1 billion, as new chief executive Alison Rose placed climate at the top of her agenda.

Rose said in the earnings statement that she planned also to roughly halve the size of the Edinburgh-based lender’s small investment banking arm. 

RBS said its profit after tax jumped to £3.1 billion (RM16.5 billion) in 2019 from £1.62 billion a year earlier.

Looking to the future, Rose said “climate, and the role we can play in accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy” was among her “initial areas of focus where we can make a substantial impact”.

She expressed “an ambition to take the lead in combating the causes of climate change”.

Rose added: “Today, we are setting a bold new ambition—to be a leading bank in the UK & Republic of Ireland helping to address the climate challenge; by making our own operations net carbon zero in 2020.”

She said the bank would seek “to at least halve the climate impact of our financing activity by 2030, and intend to do what is necessary to achieve alignment with the 2015 Paris Agreement”.

The UK financial sector is facing increasing pressure to at least limit the loans it makes to companies whose day-to-day operations are seen as harmful to the environment.

The 2015 Paris agreement saw nations commit to limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels as a way of curbing the worst impacts of global warming.

A safer cap of 1.5C was included as a goal for nations to work towards.

As for RBS, the bank promoted Rose to the post of chief executive at the end of last year, making her the first female boss of a major UK lender.

She replaced Ross McEwan, who left for National Australia Bank. — AFP