SFE: Scotland’s financial sector champions green finance future

SFE: Scotland’s financial sector champions green finance future

Sandy Begbie – Chief executive of Scottish Financial Enterprise

Scotland’s financial and professional services sector is fuelling the advance towards net zero and encouraging greater collaboration between government and industry, according to a new report.

The report, released by Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE) and Shepherd and Wedderburn, explores some of the key initiatives and innovations taking place across the industry in areas including transition finance, skills and expertise, and data and AI.

It also explores how Scotland can continue to develop its global reputation as a green finance centre. Both Edinburgh and Glasgow are in the top 50 global green finance centres with Edinburgh ranked 24th in the internationally recognised Z-Yen Global Green Finance Index and Glasgow 44th.

The report follows a major net zero summit hosted by SFE and Shepherd and Wedderburn in March, which brought together leaders and experts from across industry and academia aimed at driving collaboration and action.

It comes amid a flurry of major renewable energy infrastructure projects in Scotland, creating opportunities for financing, legal and other advisory expertise to support a growing pipeline of investable projects through to completion. It’s estimated that Scotland’s two green freeports, approved last year, could attract up to £9 billion of private investment.

The report makes a number of calls to action to government and industry to help take advantage of new opportunities including:

  • Simplifying the language around sustainability and exploring how to better inform customers and clients about the benefits of green and sustainable finance.
  • Nurturing the ecosystem through increased cross-sector engagement, support for innovators, and capital for the most promising climate fintechs.
  • A renewed focus on how to share, compare, and align data to ensure the ecosystem has a good baseline understanding on progress against net zero targets.
  • Increasing engagement with the education and research community to support upskilling and reskilling.

The Scottish Taskforce for Green and Sustainable Financial Services, established in 2022 by the Scottish Government, SFE and the Global Ethical Finance Initiative, is due to set out its recommendations, which will provide a framework for the sector as it looks to the next phase of its net zero transition.

Commenting on the report, Sandy Begbie CBE FRSE, SFE’s chief executive, said: “With a long-established and diverse financial services ecosystem, one of Europe’s largest energy sectors, leading universities, and a vibrant digital economy, we have all the ingredients to further enhance our capabilities in the burgeoning green and sustainable finance sector.

“Our ambition is to leverage these strengths to drive sustainable growth in the Scottish economy, creating jobs and boosting investment. We will continue working closely with government and other stakeholders to ensure we are fully taking advantage of the opportunity.”

Louisa Knox, partner at Shepherd and Wedderburn, said: “Shepherd and Wedderburn was delighted to host the SFE Journey to Net Zero Summit in March.

“This report draws on some of the excellent insights from those at the summit who are at the forefront of Scotland’s green finance journey, setting out some of the key actions that will help us to drive the next stage of our transition.”

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