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Call to finance sector for climate change funding

Cornwall Council’s Cabinet Member for climate change and neighbourhoods has called on the banking sector to help fund measures to tackle climate change.

Councillor Edwina Hannaford was speaking at a workshop on how to finance an inclusive green economy in rural regions.

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The Banking on a Just Transition event was hosted by South West Mutual and the London School of Economics at the Eden Project recently.

Cllr Hannaford set out Cornwall Council’s action plan for responding to the climate emergency and how the Council has introduced a new decision-making framework to consider social and environmental factors in all major projects.

The event was part of a national initiative for the Place-Based Climate Action Network (PCAN) funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

The programme is led by Professor Nick Robins at the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute which focuses on the role of finance in driving climate action that is both fair and seen to be fair.

Cllr Hannaford said: “Having lost 60% of our funding from Government, Cornwall Council continues to lobby Government for the resources and powers we need to be able to achieve our ambitious plans for Cornwall’s future successes as we strive to become carbon neutral ahead of the Government’s own 2050 target.

“Transitioning to a more balanced society and responding to the climate emergency will undoubtedly require innovative solutions to be found, changing traditional business and operation models.

“The public sector has a role in financing and where appropriate subsidising elements of the move to carbon neutrality, however we must grasp the opportunity to do things differently to support the transition to a low carbon economy and respond to the increasing pressures we are facing.

“We are asking what the banking sector is prepared to support through investment, whether that may be wind renewables, our energy efficiency challenge, geothermal power, floating offshore wind energy or wave and tidal energies.”

The Banking on a Just Transition project involves many of the UK’s leading banks and financial institutions and has held workshops in cities across the UK including in Edinburgh, Birmingham, Bristol and Leeds.

The Eden Project event was included to consider the particular challenges in rural regions and was convened by Tony Greenham, Executive Director of South West Mutual, who is on the project steering group.

Dr Rebecca Mitchell from Exeter University outlined how climate change might impact the South West. Responses from Patrick Aubrey-Fetcher of the NFU and Manda Brookman of CoaST focused on the farming and tourism sectors.

Participants included representatives from the National Farmers Union, Department for Environment and Rural Affairs, British Business Bank, Cornwall and Heart of South West Local Enterprise Partnerships, trade unions, social enterprises, the Federation of Small Businesses and other business, finance, non-governmental organisations and university participants.

The entire £20 trillion UK financial system will need to be mobilised to reach a net zero economy. This means that the banking sector must play a crucial role providing finance for businesses, households and communities across all the regions of the UK so that the positive opportunities for jobs and inclusion are realised and that no-one is ‘left behind’ in the process.  

The workshop will feed into recommendations to the Government, regional bodies and the banking sector to ensure that appropriate finance is available for the UK to meet its commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Banking on a Just Transition project is delivered in partnership with UK Finance and is funded by HSBC.

Dr Rebecca Mitchell said: “The regional economy of the South West has a high degree of reliance on the natural environment, and the potential to act as a trailblazer for development that is both environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.  Understanding the views and needs of multiple communities and stakeholders is an important step in ensuring that appropriate forms of finance are available to support these developments, enabling adaptation to existing climate and environmental change as well as driving transition to a zero carbon economy.”   

Professor Nick Robins said: "More and better finance will be key to ensuring that Cornwall's transition to a zero carbon economy is both fast and fair. It's really important to get the perspectives from key Cornish institutions so that banks, investors as well as governments regionally and nationally can put in place the financial products and services that respond to the needs of real places and people."

Tony Greenham said: “We believe that people in the south west should have the chance to put their savings back into the local economy and support companies with positive social and environmental track records.”

Cornwall Council is becoming a leading local authority on tackling climate change as it works to help Cornwall cut its carbon emissions.

On 22 January 2019 Cornwall Council was among the country’s first local authorities to declare a climate emergency which included a call to Westminster to provide the powers and resources necessary to achieve the target for Cornwall to strive towards becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

Since then the Council has produced a climate change action plan with more than 120 aims; planted the first trees of its flagship climate emergency project the Forest for Cornwall; engaged 3,000 residents on what they think should be the Council’s climate change priorities and adopted a new decision-making framework to ensure environmental factors and social benefits are considered in planning all major projects across the Council.

It is also scoping a Climate Change Development Plan Document to provide policy for future development in Cornwall to be more energy efficient; starting a Whole House Retrofit innovation project to pilot improvements to 83 existing Council owned social housing homes; and supporting renewable energy programmes including two geothermal heat projects at United Downs and the Eden Project and a new wind turbine at Ventonteague.


Story posted on 28 January, 2020