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COP26 has become arena for 'commercial opportunity', says CBI boss

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File photo dated 04/11/20 of CBI director-general Tony Danker. The CBI warned that failure to make bold changes will result in a return to
CBI director-general Tony Danker. Photo: PA

The Confederation of British Industry is set to lay out the importance of the COP26 climate summit, not only as a symbolic event for world leaders, but also for businesses at the heart of the transition to a green economy. 

Speaking at COP 26’s largest business dinner — attended by an audience of business leaders, ministers and foreign dignitaries — CBI director-general Tony Danker will tell delegates that "this is a moment in history where every firm needs to step up and lead".

Danker will say: “Regardless of political progress, we in business are ready, willing and able to deliver a net zero world. Bold targets or timid ones. Total agreement or partial agreement. I don’t believe any of you have come to Glasgow to give the job to someone else. This job is on us.”

Danker will also note that the transition for businesses to net zero cannot be done without governments and although there is a moral element to his, "this is also a commercial imperative. 

"As policy and market demands shift, we must transform our supply chains just to keep up. Our customers, clients, investors and shareholders expect nothing less," he will say. 

Read more: Bank of England interest rate decision too close to call

The comments come amid a backdrop of tentative optimism in the shift towards greening the financial sector. 

UK chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak has this week outlined ambitious plans for the UK to become the world's first net zero-aligned financial centre.

This means UK financial institutions will have robust firm-level transition plans, setting out how they will decarbonise.

Alongside commitments from private companies covering $130tn (£95tn) of financial assets, he announced the launch of an "innovative" new financing mechanism — the Climate Investment Funds’ Capital Markets Mechanism (CCMM) — that will boost investment into clean energy like solar and wind power in developing countries.

This new fund will use reflows to help it issue green bonds worth billions of pounds in the City of London and could leverage an extra $30-70bn from other sources for specific clean energy projects.

Read more: COP26: Carney hails $130tn for net zero climate commitment

Sunak also said he wanted the UK to lead the way in rewiring as a green leader. 

Elsewhere, in a speech on Wednesday at the summit, Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey said the bank had "seen a step change among senior executives and boards at firms," and that some organisations were "exhibiting genuine ambition" in making steps towards net zero. Bailey also said the industry had "much further to go". 

Watch: Biden and entourage of gas-guzzling cars leave COP26 summit

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