The Malta Independent 22 July 2019, Monday

UK aiming to become undisputed global hub for green finance

Vanya Walker-Leigh Thursday, 11 July 2019, 12:01 Last update: about 11 days ago

"UK's Green Finance Strategy launched today together with the Green Finance Institute represents a new and exciting step in the UK's long history of international leadership on climate change," John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury told 1500 finance and business leaders here last week.

Addressing the one-day Green Finance Summit at the City's 12th century complex, part of the 150-event London Climate Action Week co-organised by the Greater London Authority and the E3G thinktank, Mr Glen emphasised that "we must offer leadership, partnership and example to the rest of the world. Our aim is for the UK to become the undisputed global hub for green finance."

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On 1 May the House of Commons approved a motion declaring an environment and climate emergency, adopting on 12 June an amendment to the 2008 Climate Change Act tabled by Prime Minister Theresa May committing the UK to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. A 60,000 strong activists' lobby outside the House on 26 June demanded strong legislative action. Two days later Prime Minister May warned the g20 summit in Japan that "we are the last generation of leaders with the power to limit global warming". UK's pending bid to host the 2020 UN climate change conference (COP 26) is expected to succeed.

"Our strategy seeks to bring about a complete change in the way the City thinks and acts," Mr Glen said. "We must ensure the financial risk and opportunities from climate change are integrated into mainstream decision-making. The climate challenge poses an existential risk to the future of the planet and, by extension, our economy too."

"Hundreds of companies are disclosing details of how they are mitigating climate risk on a voluntary basis", he continued. "But today I'm calling on all public listed companies and large asset owners to do the same. I want to see these disclosures become accepted practice across the financial services sector by 2022. The government will monitor progress and publish an interim report by the end of 2020, which will inform our next steps. Behind the scenes, we will coordinate our approach with the regulators; I welcome the joint statement today that confirms their shared understanding of climate change risk. We will bring all the levers of government behind this task. A new Green Finance Education Charter will help embed sustainable thinking at every stage of professional development."

Presenting the Green Finance Institute, its Executive Director, Dr Rhian-Mari Thomas stated that "arguably the most urgent need of society is to mobilise capital with pace and at scale to finance the domestic and global transition to a zero-carbon and climate-resilient future. A monumental undertaking - the single greatest social and economic transformation in human history it will impact every sector of the economy and require the reallocation of trillions of pounds of capital."

 

The GFI will convene and lead mission-led coalitions to structure and scale green finance solutions. The first three will be to scale up financial solutions to improve the energy efficiency of UK buildings; build capacity and financial instruments to finance resilient infrastructure in UK and overseas;   finance sustainable commodity production across supply chains (as members of the new Global Resource Initiative Taskforce).

"We will share and showcase development across all aspects of UK green finance by building an accessible digital platform, the GFI Knowledge Hub, to curate and collate latest development in UK green finance", she added "hosting roundtables, attending and organising summits to raise awareness of green finance best practice across both public and private sectors".

While many speakers at the Climate Innovation Summit  focused on the technical challenges to achieving a zero carbon economy by 2050 particularly in the transport, building and industrial sectors, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development's Building Green Cities conference emphasised cities' overwhelming role in global greenhouse gas emissions and thus achievement of the net zero goal urged by last October's report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on achieving the +1.5C target. The target - to  limit the global temperature rise above pre-industrial levels to 1.5c - is seen as essential to avoid catastrophic climate impacts generating mass migration movements, crop failures and wholesale economic dislocation. The current level is already at +1C.

At a House of Commons event "Responding to the Climate Emergency - The Role of Parliament" co-organised with the GLOBE world legislators' network, the co-president of the Club of Rome international thinktank, Sandrine Dixson-Declève   presented the Club's Climate Emergency Plan issued last December, calling for a halt to fossil fuel expansion and fossil fuel subsidies by 2020, total phase out of fossil fuel use by 2050 and replacing GDP growth as the main objective for societal progress,  "Are we ready for the shift,  the needed societal renaissance?" she asked.•

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told a preparatory meeting in Abu Dhabi (28-29 June) for his Heads of States and Government Climate Summit on 23 September - where leaders are asked to bring plans, not speeches -  that "It is plain to me that we have no time to lose. Sadly, it is not yet plain to all the decision makers that run our world".  
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