Boris Johnson has won a battle with Chancellor Rishi Sunak to fund the ‘green’ projects beloved of fiancee Carrie Symonds despite opposition from a sceptical Treasury.
The Treasury is understood to fear that transforming the goals of central banks risks damaging their credibility and could fuel a dangerous green asset bubble.
The Prime Minister’s relationship with Ms Symonds, a passionate environmentalist, has been credited with influencing his declarations about ‘building a green recovery’ after the Covid pandemic by striking agreements on cutting carbon emissions and boosting renewable technologies.
Now, as the UK prepares to hold the presidency of both the G7 and the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) next year, Mr Johnson has overcome Treasury opposition to the introduction of ‘green bonds’, which act like mortgages for businesses that want to pursue environmentally friendly projects.
The Government has faced significant criticism over preparations for the summit, with former COP President Claire Perry O’Neill attacking Mr Johnson for a ‘failure of global vision and leadership’.
The US, China and France currently boast the three largest green bond markets, with Barclays, Credit Suisse and NatWest among 30 firms to last month back the introduction of a new ‘Green+ Gilt’.
Mr Johnson – whose father Stanley is also a committed environmentalist – used his speech to the Tory Party conference to back a clean energy revolution. Ms Symonds, who is on maternity leave from her job as an adviser at Oceana working to support the Bloomberg Foundation’s Vibrant Oceans Initiative, wears ethical clothing labels and campaigns on issues such as stopping the cull of badgers.
A source said: ‘Rishi’s Treasury is typically cool on issues such as green bonds, regarding them as a bit “gimmicky”, but Boris is less sceptical, and thinks that the “optics” would be good for COP26.’
The Treasury is understood to fear that transforming the goals of central banks risks damaging their credibility and could fuel a dangerous green asset bubble. Almost £182 billion of green bonds were issued worldwide last year – a rise of 20,000 per cent in a decade, according to Environmental Finance.