UK launches new Oxford-led research centre to accelerate the 'greening' of the global financial system

Image: UK Centre for Greening Finance & Investment

The UK is putting environmental issues at the heart of global finance with £10 million in backing to create a new Oxford-led research centre which will advise lenders, investors and insurers, enabling them to make better decisions to support a greener global economy.

With funding from the National Environment Research Council (NERC) and Innovate UK, both part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the new UK Centre for Greening Finance & Investment (CGFI) will be led by Dr Ben Caldecott, the founder of Oxford's Sustainable Finance Programme.

Access to scientifically robust data and analytics is currently patchy and unreliable. Armed with better information, underpinned by innovative science, financial institutions around the world will be much better placed to make decisions that contribute to a more sustainable planet.

This will help financial institutions shift money away from risky activities that harm the environment, such as coal-fired power and deforestation, and towards activities that are less harmful, such as renewable power and sustainable agriculture.

New physical hubs in Leeds and London will support companies and start-ups commercialise products that can green global finance, including tools that measure storm and flood risk facing properties or the pollution created by companies and the liabilities that result. The Centre will work with finance professions, such as the Chartered Bankers Institute and Chartered Financial Analysts UK, to ensure that every professional financial decision takes climate change into account.

Other institutions will form part of the new national centre, including the Universities of Bristol, Leeds, Reading, and Imperial College London, as well as The Alan Turing Institute and the Satellite Applications Catapult, and the Science and Technology Facilities Council. In the summer a full range of financial institution and corporate partnerships will be announced.

Work will begin in April, ahead of this year's COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow. The CGFI will deliver on commitments made in the UK Government's 2019 Green Finance Strategy, and the announcement signals the UK's commitment to using its global finance sector to support the transition to a net zero carbon and nature positive future.

Announcing the UK Centre for Greening Finance & Investment

£10M Research centre, providing data and analytics to green finance and green the global economy.

Information is the lifeblood of the financial sector.

CGFI will arm financial institutions around the world with the information needed to realise a more sustainable planet.

Science and finance working together.

Enabling financial institutions to shift capital away from risky activities that harm the environment towards those that are less harmful - heading to a net zero carbon, resilient, and nature positive future.

Creating a catalyst for green finance innovation: new green financial products, services and jobs.

Putting the UK at the forefront of green finance innovation ahead of COP26.

With seed investment from: UK Research and Innovation (UKRI); UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC); and Innovate UK.

Led by the University of Oxford, together with our partners: The Alan Turing Institute; University of Bristol; Imperial College London; University of Leeds; University of Reading; Catapult Satellite Applications; Spatial Finance Initiative; UK Science and Technology Facilities Council. Our cross-cutting partners: UK Research and Innovation; UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC); Innovate UK; National Centre for Atmospheric Science; Met Office; UNEP Finance Initiative; CDP; UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021; UK Department for Work and Pensions; Sovereign Wealth Funds; Icebreaker One; Oasis; IIGCC; CDC Investment Works; UK Finance; UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; Commonwealth Climate and Law Initiative; World Bank Group; FLOODre; DF Insurance Development Forum; Climate Bonds; A4S Accounting for Sustainability; ECMWF; and Green Finance Institute. Professional bodies: Chartered Banker; Institute and Faculty of Actuaries; CISI; and CF Society United Kingdom. Innovation hubs: Grantham Institute; Ri; and Nexus.

Launching April 2021.


Energy and Clean Growth Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said:

"Climate change is the biggest issue that we need to tackle to protect our planet for our children and grandchildren. While the government has invested billions of pounds so we can end the UK's contribution to climate change, we will not reach our net zero target without mobilising private capital and unleashing the power of the free market.

"The UK Centre for Greening Finance and Investment in London and Leeds will encourage financial services to turn the tide of their investments and focus on sectors and companies that have a smaller environmental footprint. Doing so will support industries and businesses to develop clean green innovations, creating thousands of jobs across the country - ensuring we build back greener."

Economic Secretary to the Treasury and City Minister John Glen, said:

"We've set the ambition for net zero - now we must ensure our financial sector has the tools and information to get behind the transition. We're already improving the climate data available by mandating TCFD-aligned disclosures across the economy and implementing a green taxonomy.

"This new centre will advance the UK's leadership in green finance and bring forward the day when firms can access environmental data and analytics for every place on Earth, past, present and future."

The Bank of England's executive sponsor for work on climate change Sarah Breeden, said:

"Integrating climate and environmental data and analytics into decision making will allow financial institutions to identify, measure and manage the financial risks and opportunities from climate change, and so support the Bank's objective to ensure the financial system is resilient to these risks and supportive of the transition to net zero.

"The Bank of England is delighted that the CGFI will support firms' efforts in this important area, including for the forthcoming Climate Biennial Exploratory Scenario."

William Russell, Lord Mayor of the City of London, said:

"As we look to build a more resilient post-pandemic global economy, it's clear that it must also be a more sustainable one. The demand across the sector for deep expertise in the green finance space - such as that which will be provided by the CGFI - demonstrates that the UK is well-placed to take advantage of this opportunity. I'm therefore delighted that the CGFI will introduce a new layer of innovation to the City of London in sustainable finance."

Professor Sir Duncan Wingham, Executive Chair of the Natural Environment Research Council, part of UKRI, said:

"Good data and analytics - based on the best science - is fundamental to understanding and managing climate and enivironmental risk exposure in support of the transition to a more sustainable global finance system.

"This investment by NERC and Innovate UK will enable improved access to, and understanding of, physical and transition climate and environmental risks as they impact both sides of the balance sheet. It will help the finance sector to support delivery of a low carbon economy and the recovery and restoration of our natural environments."

Professor Dame Sarah Whatmore, head of social sciences at Oxford, said:

"This investment is a ringing endorsement of the breadth and depth of expertise within the University of Oxford and our partner institutions. We are delighted to be at the forefront of such an important step towards a greener financial system, which will pave the way for more sustainable investment globally and help achieve the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals."

Dr Ben Caldecott, Director and Principal Investigator of CGFI and the Lombard Odier Associate Professor of Sustainable Finance at the University of Oxford, said:

"CGFI will allow financial institutions to access scientifically robust climate and environmental data for any point on planet earth now and projected into the future, and for every major sector of the global economy. Doing so will create public goods and unlock innovation. The UK is perfectly placed to transform the availability of climate and environmental data in finance. We have world-leading capabilities in all the various areas that need to come together to solve the problem."

"The market for ESG data, of which climate and environmental data is a large part, is expected to reach US$1bn in 2021 and grow annually by 20%. It is our view that this is actually a significant underestimate of future growth potential. The CGFI will support enterprises providing climate and environmental analytics and realise the opportunity for UK plc of being a world-leader in commercialising products that can green global finance."

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