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Green finance is mortgage world's 'biggest challenge'

Green finance is mortgage world's 'biggest challenge'
Green housing is a "massive challenge", Ami chief executive says. [Photo by Vivint Solar via Pexels]

Tackling green finance is going to be the biggest challenge facing the mortgage industry today, the chief executive of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries has stated.

Speaking at Ami's annual dinner last night (June 22) in London, Rob Sinclair said: "The biggest challenge of all is becoming green. It will be a huge driver for all of us for years to come.

"How we become carbon neutral by 2050 is a challenge that I don't think the world actually has quite worked out the answers to yet.

"We know that with property [accounting] for 24 per cent of EPA emissions, it will be a huge challenge to try to get us to the right place."

At the dinner, Sinclair unveiled a series of "steps" to help tackle the issue. Firstly, Ami has pledged to plant 300 trees - one for every guest - to partially offset the carbon cost of the dinner. 

He also announced that Ami was working with the Green Finance Institute and other trade bodies to work out how to communicate the need to move to a greener property sector, and what can be done practically to reach carbon neutrality. 

He said Ami will be collaborating with others to produce two guides - one for brokers on how to articulate to consumers the reality of retrofitting, and one for consumers so they can understand the retrofitting challenge for themselves. 

Sinclair said a new website - greenmortgageadvice.org.uk - was also in the final stages and would shortly be launched.

He said this will not only provide information for brokers about the importance of moving towards a green economy but also help lenders thinking about providing products to meet the green challenge.

It will also enable consumers to improve the long-term value of their properties.

This open-architecture site will be "Part of Ami's legacy for the industry", he added.

Referencing the controversy in May, when HSBC's now-suspended head of responsible investment, Stuart Kirk, made glib comments about the "hyperbole" in climate change rhetoric, Sinclair added: "Unlike HSBC I do care if half the Eastern seaboard of America is under water, because if that's happened, then East Anglia has gone."

Residential and commercial property sectors represent some 40 per cent of energy consumption across Europe, as well responsible for approximately 36 per cent of carbon emissions.

However, while there has been plenty of research and support for green housing, little concrete policy has been put in place.

Coalition for energy efficiency

As a result, the Green Finance Institute launched the Coalition for the Energy Efficiency of Buildings Europe, with support from climate think tank E3G, in November last year.

The Coalition aims to bring together leaders in the finance, real estate and energy sectors, and across policy, academia and non-profit organisations, in each country of operation.

The idea is to co-develop the innovative financial products that will address the renovation investment gap, such as retrofitting properties across the UK and Europe.