William Eichler 04 March 2020

Devolve power to mayor’s office to deliver ‘green investment’ for London, report says

A new study has called for the devolution of powers from Whitehall to the mayor of London’s office and the creation of an ‘urgent taskforce’ to deliver the investment London needs to decarbonise.

Financing London’s Future, published by the London Sustainable Development Commission (LSDC), estimates that £1trn of investment will be needed to fund new infrastructure in London by 2050, regardless of whether it is ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’.

The report says this ‘huge sum’ must be channelled appropriately to ensure the city remains competitive and resilient to the impacts of climate change and other city-level pressures.

However, in order to ensure this ‘step-change’ in investment is delivered, more power must be devolved to the mayor of London’s office.

The report also calls for the establishment of an urgent taskforce, comprised of all key stakeholders including public and private sector representatives, to determine how a ‘London Future Finance Facility’ (LFFF) could be established.

The LFFF would focus on securing of a flow of investment that responds to the needs of environmental projects by the mid-2020s, according to the report.

It would also concentrate on delivering ‘inclusive growth’ and the transition to a low carbon circular economy, while making London a global centre for the ‘low carbon circular economy’.

The LFFF would also demonstrate the efficiency, effectiveness and social value of integrated climate and environment financing.

Dr Ashok Sinha, chair of the LSDC, said: ‘Huge flows of global capital pass through the square mile every day – but London itself always misses out.’

He continued: ‘Such green finance flows as are issuing from the City are largely contributing to decarbonising other metropolises across the world rather than our own. This is perverse and will lead to London conceding a global leadership role unless reversed.

‘The LSDC believes there is an opportunity to invest taxpayers’ money effectively to increase the scale and quality of green finance in London, and in doing so leverage much larger private capital flows – but only if London is given the devolved financial capacity to do so.

‘We also believe that this can be done in a manner that brings real social as well as environmental benefits.

‘There must be a redoubling of London’s efforts to avoid the societal collapse facing humanity unless the twin threats of global heating beyond 1.5°C and human-driven ecosystem collapse are averted.’ Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan welcomed the report.

‘I’ve been clear from the start that, for London to play its role in tackling the climate emergency, we need large-scale investment far beyond City Hall provision.

‘This means the Government, banks, pension funds and others must play a role. Finding new means of finance is a key barrier to overcome to achieve a zero-carbon future, and I will be looking at the commission’s recommendations closely to see how they can be taken forward.’

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