Financing the Transition: Harnessing UK Cities' Ambition for Clean Energy

Polly Billington, Charles Abel Smith, Malcolm Ball
Finance Logo UK100
Financing the Transition
The ambition of local leaders to facilitate the transition to clean energy is high. But that ambition is stymied by a lack of capacity and capability when it comes to turning that ambition into reality.

Access to development finance for local projects is an issue, and the disparity between private finance and local authorities in their attitudes towards risk continues to be a barrier. However, the development of the global infrastructure finance market has created a large pool of investors with a strong desire to invest in clean energy projects which can generate an appropriate return for the risks involved.

Without clear direction in terms of policy and regulation, the market on its own won’t deliver. Business needs strong signals and active leadership from government, locally and nationally.

The ability of local leaders to avoid the siloed approach that can come from focusing on one particular technology is potentially transformative. Integrated “whole systems” thinking is what clean energy transition requires and local leaders are well placed to deliver. They think across the whole economy, have levers on a range of sectors that are important to decarbonisation (transport, housing, planning, regeneration, waste management). They are also closer to their community than national government, and are thus able to bring their communities with them, emphasising the economic and wellbeing benefits for their residents and businesses.