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We’ve had the wake-up call. Now it’s time to act


Stephen Nolan

Director, Sustainable Nation Ireland

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), last October, underlined the need to take urgent and drastic action to combat climate change. 

These actions need to span the entire breadth of the national, European and global economy, and finance has a key role to play. From an Irish perspective, there are lucrative opportunities to be seized. 

The G20 estimates that the world will need to invest around $90 trillion in sustainable infrastructure assets by 2030 to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. At home, those plans are already underpinned by the announcement in the National Development Plan of €22 billion to fund measures that will turn Ireland into a low carbon economy by 2050. Last year also saw the NTMA’s (National Treasury Management Agency) roll-out Ireland’s first-ever Green Bond, valued at €3 billion.

2019 is the year of sustainable finance

2019 will see many more positive developments. This year is the inaugural official Year of Sustainable Finance, supported and executed by Sustainable Nation Ireland with a €500,000 programme of over 30 events – including our second annual Climate Week. This year’s programme would not be possible without the support of Department of Finance Financial Services Minister, Michael D’Arcy.

On an international level, the Dublin-based secretariat of the Financial Centres for Sustainability (FC4S) Europe network will drive efforts to mobilise global financial centres in support of the European sustainability agenda.

Later this month, the European Commission will provide a one year update on its strategic Action Plan for Financing Sustainable Growth. The objective is to build a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral pan-European economy by 2050.

Ireland’s financial response to climate change

In Ireland, we were tasked with delivering a number of important actions under government’s International Financial Services (IFS) 2020 Strategy Action Plan 2019. Ireland has a globally-recognised cluster of talent in renewable energy finance and world-leading professional services firms with experience in supporting green asset management. 

One of the most compelling opportunities can be found in the role financial centres must play in unlocking the potential of sustainable finance. A key task of Sustainable Nation Ireland under Government Strategy IFS 2020 is the development of a National Roadmap on Sustainable Finance. A core output of this roadmap will be  enhancing Ireland’s world leading green finance credentials and to promote Ireland as a leading  global centre for sustainable finance. 

The launch of IFS2020 

The government recently launched its IFS2020 Action Plan for 2019 at the European Financial Forum, an event which placed a special focus on sustainable finance.

As part of the plan, we will take responsibility for 11 actions and outputs including: the development of a national roadmap to support the continued growth of Irish sustainable finance activities; leading Ireland’s Year of Sustainable Finance 2019; advancing responsible investment best practices across all Irish located asset classes; launching the second annual Sustainable Investment Forum (SIF) Ireland State of Play report; co-host the European Climate Finance Innovation Summit in Dublin in May and organising Ireland’s second climate week in November.

The successful implementation of IFS2020, a five-year, whole-of-government strategy to drive the growth and development of the IFS sector in Ireland, will dramatically advance the green and sustainable finance agenda.

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