Financing climate action insights

Hosting our first Financing Climate Action roundtable.

Posted: 27 Aug 2020

Earlier this month, Useful Projects held its first Financing Climate Action roundtable with our Insight Panel members:

  • Alison Knight, Executive Director of Neighbourhoods, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council,
  • Elliot Smith, Commercial Manager Energy Infrastructure and Regeneration, Peterborough Council,
  • Mary Aladegbola, Energy Manager, London Borough of Hackney,
  • Matthew Essex, Corporate Director of Regeneration and Culture, London Borough of Redbridge,
  • Sarah Cary, Executive Director for Place, London Borough of Enfield.

The roundtable discussion allowed us to share some of the information gathered through our Financing Climate Action survey, including:

Many respondents use tools to report on their carbon footprints and to assess climate change impacts. These tools have been useful in informing decision-making processes, delivering carbon savings, and unlocking funding.

Other green finance tools and mechanisms were not used as widely, which offers some opportunities. Similarly, innovative delivery models were used by a few organisations with adversity to risk-taking cited as a key barrier.

Overall, most respondents agreed that the main barriers to financing climate action were a lack of specialist in-house skills and internal capacity, as well as the lack of continuity and consistency of external grants to fund larger-scale projects.

To complement these findings, we asked our panelists three questions:

  1. How can local authorities build internal capacity and skills for financing climate action?
  2. How can local authorities unlock financing for low-carbon infrastructure projects?
  3. How can local authorities best collaborate to support financing climate action?

Key takeaways

Talk then progressed to sharing our industry knowledge and expertise, with key takeaways including:

Agreement that local authorities need to expand their capacity to develop holistic business cases – considering the total value created by delivering climate action.
Opportunities and challenges in financing zero-carbon infrastructure – retrofitting existing buildings, especially councils’ housing stocks, was identified as a tremendous challenge.

We also talked about collaborative approaches to deliver climate actions, particularly the intent of working together and governance frameworks that have been set up to promote collaborative endeavors. Yet, this intent does not always translate into on the ground action. Local authorities are still re-inventing the wheel rather than sharing knowledge and expertise.

Insight report

We are thankful for the insights and expertise our panelists, interviewees, and survey respondents have shared with us over the course of the past two months. These insights, as well as solutions to unlocking financing, are summarised in our Financing Climate Action Insight Report.

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