Leeds set to become global centre for green finance alongside London

Leeds Council are hoping that new research hubs will bring opportunities and jobs to Leeds.

£10 million in investment will see green finance research hubs set up in both Leeds and London, with the aim of helping and encouraging the financial sector to invest sustainably.

Councillor Barry Anderson is chair of the environment, housing and communities scrutiny board and is also an active member of the climate emergency advisory committee for Leeds Council.

Cllr Anderson stressed that not only was the initiative an excellent way to drive finance in the direction of environmentally friendly investments, but also a way for the Government to spread wealth more evenly around the UK, rather than it being London-centric. “It’s part of the Government’s strategy to try and take some of the wealth of the South East and transfer it into other parts of the country, because Leeds is very well connected […] which means hopefully more businesses will want to relocate within the West Yorkshire area.”

There are hopes from councillors such as Mr Anderson that this action will open a whole new set of jobs and allow residents of West Yorkshire to access well paid occupations, “If we are using new modern technology and have got a green agenda, it’s something people are going to be attracted to. We have got to make sure that we’re passing on these benefits, not just to Leeds but to Bradford, Wakefield, Huddersfield, Harrogate, Skipton so that the wealth comes out of the way and so that people in this area get an uplift and we get quality jobs, not just low paid jobs- that is the important thing.”

Professor Iain Clacher, head of financial technology and innovation at the University of Leeds also explained that, “within Leeds there are lots of businesses that will want to use climate risk analytics so this serves as a really strong connection not only to the city but also the region.”

The Government said that Leeds will be positioned as a, “global centre for green finance […] in the the UK’s drive to build back greener, driving the creation of thousands of new green jobs and leading the world in tackling climate change”.

A number of top UK universities are heavily involved in this action and will work in partnership with research hubs. just some of these institutions are the University of Oxford, the University of Leeds and Imperial College London.

Professor Clacher explained what this 10 million in investment for research hubs will do. “Green finance is one of the most important things going on now in terms of how we can start to think about mitigating climate change, and the money is there to support the development of a platform which is going to have transparent data and risk models that can then be applied to different parts in the financial sector.

One of the things that is key to this funding is that it’s not only about making sure the climate analytics is something that’s broadly adopted in finance but also about new businesses being created and new ventures, one part of this is for us to fit in with the existing eco system and help accelerate climate risk analytics.

The Government know and understand that this is an important area in financial services and innovation. Financial services is something that the UK has been extremely good at for a long time and given the climate emergency and the importance of green finance in that, this is very much the Government committing to that agenda.”

The research hub is set to open later this year and will work in partnership with many UK universities, it will provide, “world class” data and analytics to banks, insurers, lenders and investors. The aim is to encourage these financial sectors to make business decisions that are in the interest of preventing climate change which will have as little detriment to the environment as possible.

Although there has been no official information to where within Leeds city centre the research hub will be located, Cllr Anderson suggested that it may be near to the train station or possibly on Wellington Street.

“I expect at a future council meeting that will become available, what they will be looking for is an appropriate office building that is near to the train station, there has been a whole lot of new building going on [at Wellington Street] so that would be a good place to be because that area is getting more and more major companies.”

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