UK to ‘Rewire’ Financial System for Net Zero Heroics

At COP26, the UK Chancellor wants "better and more consistent” climate data, sovereign green bonds, mandatory sustainability disclosures, and more.

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, the UK Chancellor has outlined the government’s plans to make the nation the “first ever Net Zero Aligned Financial Centre”.

Today (3 November), Chancellor Rishi Sunak explains: “It’s easy to feel daunted by the scale of the challenge that we face. By sea levels rising; droughts and wildfires spreading; people forced out of their homes.”

However, like any politician, he played the “optimism” card and revealed what the UK government intends to do.

This ‘Net Zero Aligned Financial Centre’ means companies will have to publish a plan about how they will decarbonise and transition to net zero – with an independent taskforce to define what’s required.

Numbers were bandied about with relish by Sunak – and there was talk of a renewed pledge of $100 billion (£73.2 billion) a year of public funding.

Sunak wants to “rewire the entire global financial system for net zero”. To make this happen, there will be “better and more consistent” climate data, sovereign green bonds, mandatory sustainability disclosures, “proper” climate risk surveillance and “stronger” global reporting standards.

The concept of climate data has captured the attention of firms in the UK. Just last week London-based startup Sust Global announced a $3.2 million (£2.3 million) seed round.

The government has also mobilised the world of private finance. Sunak noted the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, which has brought together financial organisations with assets worth over $130 trillion (£95 trillion) of capital to be deployed.

Elsewhere, Sunak says at least 80% of the global economy has committed to net zero or carbon neutrality targets. Notable absences include China and Russia.

The UK has a green and global dream – and the nation’s tech firms could prosper from this – but some big nations are crucially missing. Despite Sunak’s positivity, unless everyone on this planet gets their act together, it may all end up as a nightmare.

Antony Peyton
Antony Peyton
Antony Peyton is the Editor of eWeek UK. He has 18 years' journalism and writing experience. His career has taken him to China, Japan and the UK - covering tech, fintech and business. Follow on Twitter @TonyFintech.

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