City of London policy chief calls for national ‘renewed focus’ to help seize net zero opportunities

City of London policy chief calls for national ‘renewed focus’ to help seize net zero opportunities

The policy chairman of the City of London Corporation has called for “a long-term sense of direction” including “a programme for government, regulators and industry to act and sustain our global powerhouse status,” and for the UK to find “a renewed focus” as a country “at a crossroads”.

In a major speech delivered at the Drapers’ Hall in the heart of the Square Mile last night, Chris Hayward, who became chair of the City’s preeminent policy and resources committee and de facto political leader just under a year ago, warned that “our journey to success is more challenging today than a year ago” against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and amid “increasing global competition”.

Speaking in the presence of guest Andrew Griffith, economic secretary to the Treasury, Hayward said London’s financial sector would be better able to seize opportunities in “tech and innovation” and “sustainable finance” if the recommendations of an emerging framework for growth he and colleagues are developing are accepted, with the goal of securing the UK’s position as “the leading financial capital for the next generation”.

Hayward highlighted “our leadership on net zero” as “another opportunity for us to unlock  future prosperity”, citing the author of the government’s recent net zero review, Chris Skidmore, describing net zero as the “growth opportunity of the 21st Century”. He added: “At the City Corporation we want to harness this opportunity and position the UK as a one-stop shop – the go-to partner for countries and companies looking for capital and expertise as they transition to net zero.”

However, he warned that finding “the courage to change” will depend on three factors, he summarised as “policy, products and people”. An “effective and coherent sustainable finance framework” would be needed to “reduce frictions”, he said, along with more creativity to nurture innovation and encouragement for firms to prioritise skills “to retain size and scale of talent” and “enable proper engagement with sustainable growth markets”.

Looking back on his time as policy chairman so far, Hayward paid tribute to his predecessor Catherine McGuinness – who received a CBE in the new Year’s honours list – and other colleagues, and listed the launch of the flagship Destination City policy, aiming at attracting more visitors to the Square Mile, as a major achievement along with hosting the inaugural new zero delivery summit. He also expressed hopes that more City employees could be attracted back to office working.

Photograph from Chris Hayward Twitter profile.

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