Private investment crucial to meet climate goals – McGuinnessVish Gainon March 3, 2022 at 15:14 Silicon RepublicSilicon Republic

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The European Union’s top finance commissioner has told Irish businesses today (3 March) that private investment is key to achieving climate goals in Ireland and the EU for 2050.

Mairead McGuinness, the EU commissioner for financial stability, financial services and the capital markets union, told a conference in Dublin today that aside from public investment, private companies have a crucial role to play in the European Green Deal’s implementation.

“While public finance is important it will not be enough. The EU sustainable finance agenda ensures that private investment plays a central role in meeting our climate goals,” she told more than 100 delegates at the climate-focused seminar organised by Irish law firm William Fry.

The Green Deal is the EU plan to make the bloc climate neutral by 2050, with an ambitious target of 55pc emissions reduction by 2030 – a goal that Ireland has committed to.

However, the financing of this ambition is to come from a combination of public and private investment, with the strategy designed to mobilise capital markets to fund the transition. It includes a range of measures that mandate sustainability reporting for most companies.

“Through setting out clear criteria on what is sustainable, as well as reporting standards, we are giving companies and investors the necessary tools so that money flows to investments that help us reach our net zero target,” McGuinness told the delegates, representing Irish businesses.

Her comments come just days after a UN report issued a stark warning that some effects of the climate crisis may soon become irreversible if governments don’t step up their efforts to meet climate goals and halt global heating at not more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“This report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction,” said Hoesung Lee, IPCC chair, said on Tuesday. “Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.”

Some of the previous speakers at the event included Ken Bowles, CFO at Smurfit Kappa, Mary Whitelaw, director of corporate affairs, strategy and sustainability at AIB, and Jan-Hein van den Akker, head of equity at Mercer Global Investments Europe.

Lorena Dunne, co-chair of William Fry’s ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) and sustainability practice group, said the comments made by McGuinness “resonate strongly against the backdrop of this week’s urgent warnings from the IPCC”.

“William Fry’s ESG and sustainability group is committed to supporting businesses at all stages of their green journey in progressing their sustainability strategies and meeting their obligations under the complex network of sustainable finance measures described today by the commissioner,” she said.

At COP26 in November last year, Ireland committed to providing €225m per year in climate finance to developing countries by 2025.

In the same month, Ireland published the Climate Action Plan 2021 with the goal of reducing overall emissions by 7pc each year, ultimately reaching a 51pc reduction by 2030 and setting the country on a path to net-zero emissions no later than 2050.

Mairead McGuinness at the European Parliament in 2020. Image: European Union 2020/EP (CC BY 4.0)

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