U.K. financial institutions warned Prime Minister Rishi Sunak against sending mixed messages about net-zero goals that could delay needed investment.
The warning came in a letter sent Tuesday by 36 asset owners, managers, banks and other financial institutions with a collective £1.5 trillion ($1.9 trillion) in assets or assets under management who are members of the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association, which organized the letter.
In the letter, they said they "need confidence in the government's long-term commitment to this agenda to allow us and our investee companies to make multi-billion-pound investments in the UK's sustainable economy of the future," but that recent government statements and policy signals, including new oil and gas licenses, risk undermining those efforts.
"This shift blurs regulatory visibility for investors and risks the ability of the finance sector to make the large-scale, transformative investments required to accelerate net-zero delivery and unlock growth in the UK," the letter said.
The signatories described the U.K. as the world's largest net exporter of financial services and called sustainable finance a major growth industry there. The right policy "could position the UK financial services sector as a global leader in green investment, driving further prosperity and growth, including in emerging financial services," they wrote.
James Alexander, CEO of UKSIF, said in a news release that global competition for private investment in clean industries "is intense." As major financial players decide where to invest, "the U.K. needs to look both attractive and consistent as a leading destination for sustainable investment," Mr. Alexander said.
Asset owners signing the letter include the £47 billion BT Pension Scheme, London; Railpen, the in-house manager of the £34 billion Railways Pension Scheme, London; and the £35 billion Brunel Pension Partnership, Bristol, England.
Otto Thoresen, chairman of the BT Pension Scheme said in the news release that "long-term and consistent policy will help drive real investment into the U.K. economy. Holding sustainability considerations at the core of this will lead to a more prosperous economy, increased growth and job creation which in turn will help secure our members' pensions."