The UK Infrastructure Bank’s (UKIB) efforts to deliver on its green remit received a boost today, with the news former We Mean Business CEO Nigel Topping has been appointed as one of its first non-executive directors.
Topping, who is currently serving as High Level Climate Action Champion for COP26, is part of a group of four senior business leaders to be appointed to the new bank in non-exec roles as it looks to ramp up its investment activity following its last launch year.
He is set to work alongside fellow non-executive directors Bridget Rosewell, Tania Songini, and Marianne Økland, several of whom also have experience working in the green economy.
Rosewell currently chairs Atom Bank and the M6 Toll Company and is a non-executive for Northumbrian Water Group, while Songini is a non-executive director with The Private Infrastructure Development Group, Thrive Renewables, Guernsey Electricity, and the Energy Systems Catapult.
Økland currently serves on the Board of Directors of Scorpio Tankers Inc and as an independent director on the Professional Welsh Rugby Board following a career in banking at JP Morgan and UBS.
Topping was appointed as Climate Action Champion for COP26 ahead of last year’s Glasgow Climate Summit and played a key role in co-ordinating and promoting the many announcements from businesses and other non-state actors at the Summit, including the huge expansion in the number of companies committed to reaching net zero emissions.
He has worked to advance the green economy and net zero transition since 2006, working at the Carbon Disclosure Project before then leading the We Mean Business Coalition of corporates.
Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, said the appointments would “further strengthen the Bank’s capability and support it to deliver on its goals”.
He added that “since its launch nearly a year ago, the Bank has already delivered on its mandate, investing in projects that will support net zero and levelling up across the whole of the UK.”
The bank said it has already completed seven deals, including financing the UK’s largest solar farm in south Wales, investing £100m to provide high-capacity broadband to around 500,000 properties in hard-to-reach UK premises and a further £50m to improve digital connectivity for rural homes and businesses across Northern Ireland.
It is now in the process of hiring more executives to expand its team as it looks to finalise its investment strategy in the coming weeks.
The bank is expected to work with the private sector to help de-risk and catalyse investment in strategic infrastructure that can support the net zero transition and the government’s levelling up agenda.
Its launch last year was broadly welcomed by green business groups, but there was also criticism of the government’s decision to develop a new state-backed infrastructure bank just four years after privatizing the Green Investment Bank.
The new bank is now facing growing calls to develop new products that would allow it to provide low cost finance to energy efficiency projects, as a means to accelerating building retrofit programs and fill some of the gap provided by the closure of the government’s Green Homes Grant scheme.