Financial Times – Blended finance can help Britain catch up on climate

In Bristol, a 20-year partnership between the city council, a US cleantech business and a Swedish energy company is showing how government, business and private investors can work together to bring in private capital at scale to solve the country’s most pressing challenges.

Bristol City Leap aims to decarbonise England’s seventh-largest city by giving business and investors the policy certainty needed to commit for the long term. With an initial focus on the council’s own assets, a partnership has been developed with Ameresco and Vattenfall that will direct about £630mn of public and private investment over five years into solar, wind, heat networks, heat pumps and other energy efficiency measures to help Bristol meet its target of being “carbon neutral and climate resilient” by 2030.

The challenges of designing such a partnership should not be understated, but nor should private-sector appetite. More than 180 companies were interested in getting involved. The project offers a model for collaboration between the government and the private sector in addressing the UK’s economic, environmental and social challenges.

Bringing more private capital to bear on these challenges is critical. Fiscal realities mean private investment is the only way to bridge the financing gaps that exist across the UK economy.

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