Sir Roger Gifford speech at COP24, 11 December 2018

Check Against Delivery

Speech by Sir Roger Gifford, Chair of the Green Finance Initiative

At the UNFCCC COP24 UK Pavilion, Green Finance Reception, 11 December 2018

Good evening ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you to government colleagues for the invitation to speak to you today at this event, at this time and in this place.

Because, how we manage our relationship with man’s oldest partner – the natural world – is becoming the test of our times.

What was once a niche and slightly denigrated topic, climate change, has now evolved into an important geopolitical issue. And what is clear, especially in the light of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is that political instability is an inevitable consequence of dangerous climate change.

This is no longer just about polar bears, plastic bags and melting ice flows, its about social stability, about poverty and pollution – about life and death.

Truly, climate change is no longer just another environmentalist problem – decarbonising the economy, rapidly, is a strategic imperative for ensuring prosperity and security for us all.

Its important – and its why we are here.

Since this meeting in 2015, and the negotiation of the Paris Agreement, an amazing transition in thinking has taken place – indeed, it still is, evolving almost weekly.

In reaching that agreement, global leaders signalled a clear political intent to mitigate the potentially catastrophic impact of climate change.

And we have witnessed deeper – and genuine – engagement by the private sector in green finance. Specifically, we are here to reflect on the progress that has been made, and also to look to the future – to COP25 and beyond.

So, let us briefly take stock of where we in the UK are now – and in particular the developments we have made on international partnerships.

Because I think the UK and the City of London are leading the way in green finance.

The Government, led by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, are demonstrating their commitment to stimulating a robust environment for green finance, through their clean growth strategy, forthcoming green finance strategy and international engagement initiatives.

And by the way, they started this long before even the climate change act was signed, 10 years ago.

And the UK’s Green Finance Initiative, which I am honoured to Chair, was launched in 2016, to provide market leadership on green finance and promote London’s world-class financial and professional services.

The GFI has come a long way since it’s inauguration.

Internationally the GFI continues to spread best practice globally. To date, we have done extensive work with our partners in China, Brazil and Mexico.

In March, we proposed the creation of a UK-China Green Finance Centre. Funded from the UK Government’s International Climate Finance programme, it will be one of the six UK PACT projects to be taking place in China over the next year.

The Centre will enhance cooperation between UK GFI and the China Green Finance Committee, and increase our capacity to deliver.

It will focus on:

  • Improving access to data for green investors in UK and China
  • On investor and issuer education and capacity building, to increase investment and cross-border capital flow, including for Belt and Road projects
  • And it will be a hub for UK-China policy, regulatory and political leadership on green finance

The Centre opens a host of new possibilities for UK-China relations.

Equally, we are keen to work with other international centres to continue to expedite green finance globally and we want to continue to cement UK leadership and accelerate activity in the green finance sector.

That is why the Green Finance Taskforce was set up last year, to consider how government and the private sector can best work together to make green finance an integral part of our financial services.

The report of the Taskforce sets out an ambitious agenda for the future of the sector.

I am delighted that the Chancellor has endorsed our key recommendations, and the City Corporation, Treasury and BEIS are jointly launching a Green Finance Institute in London next year.

This will be a permanent centre for green finance, a one-stop-shop for world leading climate science and for capital, dedicated to the further embedding of green finance.

It is my goal that advancing UK international engagement in green finance will be a central pillar of the Institute’s mission.

We already lead the world in this market, from the underwriting and arrangement to the listing and investment in many billions of international green bonds.

The Institute will allow us to go further.

Overseeing the entire value chain – going from diplomacy, technical assistance, public finance and into blending green finance and commercial activity.

There’s lots more to be done, and the Green Finance Institute, with government support, will play an important role in this for the UK.

Thank you.


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