Green finance plans seen as positive signal

The UK infrastructure industry has given a cautious welcome to the government’s plans to make the UK a “Net Zero financial centre”, and to boost renewable investment.

“The government recognises that for big projects, there needs to be some form of regulatory and financing structure that facilitates the required investment,” said Amar Qureshi, chief executive of advisory firm Agilia Infrastructure Partners.

“It will be interesting to see whether the requirement to publish net Zero transition strategies will flow down to infrastructure funds,” said Daniel Grosvenor, partner at Deloitte. “The drive from government is helpful. financial services and regulation will have a big role to play.”

Qureshi pointed out that this was demonstrated in the Budget, where he said confirmation of the use of the regulated asset base (RAB) model for new nuclear power is a good example of the government “embracing a clear policy around Net Zero and providing the tools to execute on that”.

“Proposals to scale up renewables at COP 26 will see spending on renewable generation continue at pace in the UK and Western Europe,” added Richard Crawford, infrastructure director InfraRed Capital Partners.

However, he warned that “a whole economy approach to decarbonisation” should now be the focus for governments around the world. “Such an approach will help ensure adequate demand and storage, and that the required supporting grid infrastructure is in place, for the additional supply of clean energy.”

Meanwhile, Norton Rose Fulbright’s EMEA head of sustainability, Caroline May, welcomed the launch of a new International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) to establish a comprehensive baseline sustainability reporting and disclosure standard.

“The market is hungry for comprehensive and comparable reporting standards for sustainability and ESG,” she said. “The ISSB will allow for both greater certainty and transparency for investors.”