Pictured at KPMG A Taste of Dublinwas 
 Pic Orla Murray/ SON Photo

What is Green Finance, and how does Ireland fare in the global leadership race?

Dublin has joined a list of around 20 financial centres, including London, Paris, Frankfurt and Hong Kong, who have launched a specific sustainable plan over the last 12 months.

Under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, it was agreed upon to limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees or less, a massive project that will require either the upgrade of existing infrastructure to be more climate resilient or to build out new low-carbon infrastructure.

Finance Green Ireland (FGI) is a national initiative that now aims to help us position ourselves as a world leader in green finance.

Succeeding in this goal would translate into more opportunities for businesses, and more jobs for the Irish public, according to the Director of Sustainable Finance at Sustainable Nation Ireland’s Laura Heuston.

“FGI is a public/private forum that brings together all the market actors across the financial services sector in order to promote and position Ireland as a global green finance centre,” Ms Heuston told Independent.ie.

“It’s a compelling opportunity for Ireland to play a leading part in the development of Green Finance.”

Sustainable Nation, mentioned in the government’s IFS 2020 Strategy, was created through a 2015 merger of Ireland’s Green International Financial Services Centre (Green IFSC) and a group leading the cleantech market in Dublin, The Green Way.

Creating the infrastructure and projects that will one day decarbonise the planet is a costly process – and green finance is the business of finding the cash required to pay for it.

According to the G20, it is estimated that the total global investment required to tackle the climate change issues, and decarbonising national economies, could reach €90 trillion.

The amount required for Ireland to make the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy by 2040, according to the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), is €40bn.

“The work to transition to this point in just over two decades is entirely achieveable so the race is on,” said Ms Heuston.

“There is nearly €28bn of green finance activity already underway in Ireland; €7bn in green infrastructure funds (leveraging Ireland’s world renowned expertise in renewables sector), €4bn in UCITS funds, €6bn in green listed equities, and €11bn of green bonds listed in Ireland.”

A key topic at the Climate Change talks (Cop 23) that concluded in Bonn last October, was that green finance can typically go into projects that include energy generation.

This includes onshore/offshore winds and solar, energy storage, water and waste projects, in addition to retrofit of commercial and residential buildings and funding other cleantech innovations.

Last year, Sustainable Nation signed up to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Financial Centres for Sustainability initiative, the Casablanca Declaration, which sees Dublin line up with cities like Milan, Stockholm Shanghai and Hong Kong as key hubs for green money and investment.

“Our task is to highlight and leverage upon our unique selling point (USP) in green finance,” said Ms Heuston.
“The country has a globally recognised cluster of talent in renewable energy finance, we have world-leading professional services firms experiences in supporting green asset management and Ireland is a global leader in international financial services.”

As financial institutions looking to Dublin as a potential post-Brexit hub, Ireland being a green financial centre could really seal the deal.

Global Head of Renewable Energy in KPMG, Mike Hayes, is a non-executive director at Sustainable Nation, and has been involved in renewables since 1999.

Aside from the fact that renewables is good for business, for the economy, and the passion of the people involved is inspiring, Mr Hayes said it actually makes a participant feel that much better in an almost selfish way as it’s good for the environment too.

“This agenda is too important. We want to bring the consumers on board, we want to work with government. We believe in a low carbon environment and we need to figure out how we accelerate Ireland to a low carbon economy.”

Mr Hayes uses the analogy of the motor industry to explain the importance of green finance for the renewables sector.

“We would not be able to run a car if we did not have petrol. With renewables, we need unbelievable amounts of investment; green finance is the fuel for the sector.”

By Louise Kelly, Irish Independent, 28th February 2018

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