New London green finance hub needs UK to be part of European Union says City climate chief

Co-operation needed for low carbon economy, says ex-Lord Mayor Gifford

The senior banking executive tasked with making London a major world hub for environmental investing has strongly come out in support of the UK remaining within the European Union.

The ‘Brexit’ debate sparked into life over the weekend with Prime Minister David Cameron announcing June 23 as the date for a referendum on the country’s membership of the 28-member bloc.

Sir Roger Gifford, the UK head of investment bank Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SEB) and former Lord Mayor of London, heads up the new City’s new Green Finance Initiative (GFI).

“Open borders and co-operation are the way to achieve a low carbon economy,” Gifford said.

He made his remarks at a reception at the Dutch embassy in London last night to mark the launch of a new book called ‘New Economy Business’ by Marga Hoek, CEO of the Dutch Sustainable Business Association.

Gifford told RI last month that he has been pushing for the UK capital to take the green finance step “for the last couple of years” since he finished his one year stint as Lord Mayor.The initiative he heads up was launched earlier this year with the backing of the UK Treasury, the Department of Energy & Climate Change and the City of London Corporation, the entity that lobbies for London as a finance centre. It was incubated alongside the UN Environment Programme’s high-level ‘Inquiry: Design of a Sustainable Financial System’, led by Nick Robins, the former Head of HSBC’s Climate Change Centre of Excellence and Simon Zadek, Senior Fellow at the Global Green Growth Institute.
In an interview with RI after the launch, Gifford said: “We welcome working with other capitals such as Paris, Luxembourg and elsewhere on building green finance capacity. We want them all to develop strongly.”
Also speaking at the event was Paul Polman, the CEO at British-Dutch consumer goods company Unilever. In a persuasive, off-the-cuff speech, Polman said the favourable outcome of the COP21 talks in Paris was “why we should believe in mankind”.

But, he said: “If we don’t take the two degree challenge the poor will suffer most. If we don’t tackle climate change we don’t have growth.”