EU’s High Level Expert Group report on Sustainable Finance has set out a raft of crucial recommendations to boost green investment – but will they unlock the long term vision the sector needs?

Money talks, or so the old adage goes. But the key question for the green economy and beyond, has long been how to make those with money talk more about climate change. Investment in low carbon infrastructure and green business may have soared in recent years, but one of the biggest challenges faced by the Paris Agreement remains the chasm between current investment levels and the $1tr a year experts believe is required to decarbonise the global economy. However, today a group of finance experts assigned by the European Commission to try and address the barriers to lareg scale green investment published a report which may just provide a workable set of solutions.

The report is expected to shape the Commission’s soon to launched sustainable finance strategy, which aims to scale up green investment levels in support of the bloc’s climate change targets. The strategy faces a daunting challenge. Analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) earlier this month found that European clean energy investment last year fell back 26 per cent on 2016 levels to $57.4bn. German investment also fell back 26 per cent, while the biggest drop was seen in the UK, where clean energy spending dropped 56 per cent to $10.3bn last year. Europe has traditionally been a leader in the global low carbon transition, but now investment in the likes of China and India is speeding ahead.

Thus, a year ago the Commission established the High Level Expert Group (HLEG) on Sustainable Finance to come up with a report to feed into the Sustainable Finance Strategy. Made up of 20 senior experts from civil society, the finance sector and academia, as well as observers from international institutions, the group’s comprehensive recommendations – covering retail banking all the way to high level investing – could provide a turning point for efforts to build Europe’s green economy.

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