Lord mayor calls for UK green bonds as council solar bond gathers pace

  • Roger Gifford

    Sir Roger Gifford has served as UK head of SEB since 2000, seeing the group issue a number of international green bonds which he thinks would work for the UK.

The UK should adopt the use of green bonds to fund greater take-up of renewable energy projects, according to the lord mayor of London.

The claim follows last week’s launch of a council solar bond, which has already raised more than £165,000 in less than a week.

Sir Roger Gifford, who was elected in 2012, currently serves as the head of the UK division of Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SEB), a Swedish financial group previously responsible for managing the issuing of green bonds.

Speaking in The Independent, Gifford claims the UK could follow examples set around the world where significant sums of money have been raised to fund green projects by offering to sell bonds to the public.

“The city of Gothenburg launched its own green bond for a project and were flooded with calls from local people wanting to get involved. I don’t see why that shouldn’t happen in Leeds, or Bradford, or wherever,” he said.

The SEK500 million (c. £42 million) bond in Gothenburg was launched in 2013 and has been used for biogas projects, electric vehicles and energy efficient buildings.  

Gifford added: “There is great potential for the UK to follow the Scandinavian or North America models. Mostly obviously for wind, but also for wave, solar and biofuel power – all those forms of renewable energy are perfect for this kind of climate-friendly financing.”

His comments have followed the launch of what is believed to be the first council solar bond by Swindon Borough Council, which aims to raise £1.8 million from community investors by 30 June. At the time of writing, the project had raised almost 10% (£165,987) of this target in just six days.

As well as fulfilling his duties for the Swedish Bank, Gifford is also chair of the Green Finance Initiative, which was launched in January to place London at the centre of an infrastructure market expected to attract £100 billion-a-year in green bonds.

Speaking at the launch event for the new initiative, Gifford said: “The financial system we need is one that fully supports and facilitates the transition toward a low-carbon economy, and we believe London can play a leading role in this process.”

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