Alok Sharma: “Finance and investment are the lifeblood of net zero projects”

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BUSINESS Secretary Alok Sharma highlighted the role of finance in delivering green recovery following the coronavirus pandemic in his keynote speech earlier this week.

Speaking at the London Stock Exchange webinar, Mr Sharma told the participants: “– As we emerge from the public health pandemic, we not only want to support businesses to bounce back as quickly as possible, but also to do so in a way that meets the UK’s big, structural challenges.

“This is why we want to deliver a green recovery. And we want to do that in partnership with business and finance.

“Because finance and investment are the lifeblood of net zero projects – and we can only meet this challenge together.

“I know the role finance can play in delivering this change, having worked in corporate finance myself for over 15 years before I came into politics.

“When I worked in the banking sector, certainly at the start of it, green finance was a nascent initiative.

“But things have changed and they do change.

“— So my message is simple, and I say this as a former financier to the current cohort: the UK is the place for you to invest in green assets.

“And you will be welcomed and right to do so.

“— Which is why I am currently engaging with businesses across the country on the opportunities that arise from our net zero commitment and how they can support a green recovery.

“And we will continue to do so, so I invite all of you to contribute to our thinking by submitting written responses to the questions that we have set out on GOV.UK, and if you’d like to know how to do it then please get in touch with us.

“But of course this is alongside our Green Finance Strategy, which aims to accelerate investment in green infrastructure.

“And my department will continue to work at pace to deliver these policy commitments over the course of this Parliament.

“And now, as we look forward to COP26 next November (2021), our aim is to ramp up ambition towards a climate-resilient, zero-carbon economy.

“And ahead of COP26, we have defined five areas which need particular attention:

  • clean energy
  • clean transport
  • nature-based solutions
  • adaptation and resilience
  • and, of course, making all of this possible, finance

“Whenever I mention the five campaigns, I always make a point of mentioning finance last.

“Because, from preserving ecosystems, to manufacturing electric cars and solar panels, it all needs to be paid for.

“Again and again, I have seen first-hand how finance turns good ideas into action.

“And ahead of COP, we want to see investors take crucial actions, such as setting a target for net zero and publishing a clear transition plan on how to achieve this.

“And while we have seen progress on the Task-Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, this must accelerate.

“And I urge you all to continue signing up to the recommendations of the TCFD to build a greener and more resilient financial system.

“And I can announce today that, from August we will be launching the first round of our UK PACT Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

“The UK government will fund the best projects and approaches to be deployed globally, and share UK expertise to support others with their own green recovery.

“So in conclusion I hope you take away from today the clear message that you and your organisations are absolutely vital in supporting the green recovery and transition to net zero.

“Not only because it’s the right policy, but because it is the right business and investment decision.

“Because government will stand behind you every step of the way when you make these decisions.

“So we can build a better world, through our economic recovery together.”