Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I can only applaud your determination during this G7 Summit to create a greener and more prosperous future in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The global health emergency has shown us what a truly borderless crisis looks like. Of course, we did not fully see Covid coming. Yet climate change and bio-diversity loss represent a borderless crisis, the solutions to which have been argued about and postponed for far too long. The fight against this terrible pandemic provides, if ever one was needed, a crystal-clear example of the scale, and sheer speed, at which the global community can tackle crises when we combine political will with business ingenuity and public mobilization. Ladies and gentlemen, we are doing it for the pandemic. So if you don’t mind me saying so, we must also do it for the planet.
This is why I am particularly grateful to the Prime Minister for making time in this very packed G7 programme to bring the vital ingredients of political will and business ingenuity together in the same space. Because to ‘build back better’ we need, above all, a truly effective partnership between government and business in order to mobilize finance and innovation, and to deliver a just transition for developed and developing economies alike.
With this urgency in mind, my Sustainable Markets Initiative has brought together over 300 global CEOs, forming a ‘coalition of the willing’. They have over $60 trillion in assets under management and, crucially, a determination to direct tens of trillions of dollars towards sustainable investment by 2030. With invaluable support from the world’s four largest accountancy firms, we are identifying the roadblocks to sustainable growth and the practical solutions which would shift them out of the way.
If you could bear it, let me give one practical example of how the government/business partnership model delivers success. Back in 2014, offshore wind was described as the most expensive way of delivering the most marginal impact on climate change. The technology existed, but it was a risky venture. Yet today, offshore wind is an essential part of our energy mix. The transformation happened because Government sent clear market signals through its climate change commitments and regulations. Finance therefore had the confidence to invest. This allowed business innovation to improve the turbines and respond to demand. Meanwhile, consumers benefit from green energy and falling prices. Only through this sort of government and business coalition can we, once again, literally put the wind in our sails and win the battle against climate change across all sectors: from agriculture to aviation; from fossil fuels to fashion.
While, of course, the scale of the challenge is clearly immense – and the window of opportunity to tackle it is closing extremely fast – business leaders, working through my Sustainable Markets Initiative over the past sixteen months, have helped us develop the “Terra Carta” - a Road Map, if you like, offering practical steps on where we need to go and, crucially, how to get there.
In all our work, three powerful messages from business stand out:-
First, industry and finance need clear market signals, standards and regulation in order to provide the essential conditions to enable them more rapidly to re-orientate their operations and make the required transition;
Second, international financial institutions need better ways to leverage public funding, to catalyze private finance and mitigate risk; and third, a transformative outcome will require a pipeline of fully developed and genuinely sustainable projects, at sufficient scale and ready for investment. For example, in Roundtable meetings I have convened with Commonwealth Leaders from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Pacific, we have identified large financing gaps for green energy, water, sanitation, transport and other transition infrastructure.
So thank you, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, for giving up your precious time for this short meeting. I can only hope it will be possible to work together towards the G20 and COP26, and to match trillions of dollars with sustainable investments to deliver the target 1.5 degree – or, better still – less than that.
Now I know the Prime Minister would like to say a few words, and then perhaps we could turn to the C.E.O. of Bank of America, Brian Moynihan, who co-chairs the Sustainable Markets Initiative with me, to offer a brief private sector perspective.