The UK government has assembled a “Green Finance Taskforce,” composed of London-based investors and officials, who will work to encourage investment in sustainable energy and low carbon technology. The group will have 6 months to create proposals, and will work with banks and financial institutions. Sir Roger Gifford, former lord mayor of London, will chair the group. They will focus on how to make planned government infrastructure investments, such as energy and transportation projects, greener and more sustainable.
The taskforce includes the London Stock Exchange’s chief executive, a Bank of England senior adviser, and representatives from Barclays, HSBC, and Aviva.
The government hopes to promote ways for consumers to benefit from green technology, such as green mortgages, which can make borrowing less expensive for homeowners who insulate their homes. They also want to assure investors in green technology that their money is in the right hands.
According to UK climate change minister Claire Perry:
“The transition to a low-carbon economy is a multi-billion pound investment opportunity and a key part of this government’s industrial strategy. Developing standards to promote responsible investment in sustainable projects and establishing the Green Finance Taskforce will help ensure businesses across the UK take full advantage of it.”
Economic secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Barclay, said:
“Financial services are a British success story. It is a priority of mine that people are able to access financial products that support their values, whether that be sharia-compliant loans or green mortgages that have a positive environmental impact. This taskforce will keep the UK at the forefront of green finance and help deliver choice for consumers.”
The taskforce, however, will likely rely on voluntary standards that banks, companies, and other institutions can opt for. Standards could, for example, compel companies to state their vulnerability to climate change risks.
Some environmental advocates called on the government to go further. Simon Bullock, senior climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth called the task force “another welcome boost to the green economy,” but added that “ministers must also do far more to reduce investment in climate-wrecking fossil fuels, such as fracking and deep sea oil exploration. If we want to stop climate change, 80% of the world’s coal, oil and gas reserves must be left in the ground.”
The announcement coincided with the start of Climate Week in New York, where UK companies such as Aviva, WPP and Marks & Spencer met with others from around the world, promoting the disclosure of climate change related risks to investors.
According to Nigel Topping, chief executive of the We Mean Business coalition:
“There is a great need among the investor community to have consistent climate-related financial risk disclosures from businesses in order to make more informed decisions on capital investment.”