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Council takes step towards launching local climate bonds

Cllr Matthew Bird
Cllr Matthew Bird, Lead Cabinet Member for Sustainability

Lewes District Council is among the first six councils in England and Wales to pledge its support for a local climate bonds campaign to fund green projects.

The Green Finance Institute and Abundance Investment launched the campaign this summer to raise awareness and support councils through the process of releasing their own bonds.

The bonds would allow the council to raise money through a crowdfunding model, with residents able to invest from as little as £5.

Funding could be used for clean energy initiatives including wind farms and solar panel installations or climate action projects from rewilding through to electric vehicle planning.

Councillor Matthew Bird, Cabinet member for Sustainability, said: "This campaign aligns perfectly with our target of becoming fully climate resilient and achieving carbon net zero by 2030.

"I welcome these bonds which would allow people across the Lewes district to invest as little as £5 in projects that help tackle the climate crisis in their community."

By supporting the campaign, Lewes District Council has committed to exploring the launch of local climate bonds within 18 months of the global climate conference, COP26, this November.

Local Climate Bonds were first piloted by West Berkshire and Warrington councils in 2020, raising £2 million in total for projects including solar panels, habitat restoration, tree planting and LED lighting.

Karl Harder, co-founder and managing director of Abundance Investment, said: "Local councils will play a vital role in the success of the UK's transition to net zero, and launching a local climate bond has proven an effective way to galvanise local interest and energy.

"Individually the challenge of the climate emergency can feel daunting but by investing together we can kick start hundreds of local green revolutions, investing from £5."

Lewes District Council recently completed the Net Zero Innovation Programme funded by the Local Government Association. The council's partner, The University of Sussex, carried out research and workshops with council staff to understand the barriers and opportunities for crowdfunded projects to address the climate emergency.

The report on their work, including how the council might progress with climate bonds, can be found at lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk - climate change and sustainability