Renewable energy not a priority for London, says deputy mayor

By:
Kanika Saigal
Published on:

London remains one of the top cities for international investment, but the deputy mayor for policy and planning argues that renewable energy is not a priority for the city.

Sir Edward Lister, chief of staff and London’s deputy mayor for policy and planning, says it is not important for the city to use or develop renewable sources of energy.

According to Sir Edward, the most important thing for an international financial centre such as London is accessible energy and good infrastructure. “The most important thing for our economy right now is a steady and reliable supply of energy," he says. "It does not matter if it comes from renewable sources or not.

“There are many cities short of energy, which has had detrimental effects on their economy. London cannot afford to have this problem. Development with green energy comes at too much of a cost right now, although this doesn’t mean it is completely off the agenda.”

 
 Sir Edward Lister
As eurozone countries grapple with the debt dilemma, London and the UK have remained susceptible to contagion, as the country fights to break from recession.

Nevertheless, London is the premier place for international investment, says Sir Edward. “We are in the right time zone, we speak the right language, we live by the rule of law and London is a safe city to live in,” he says. 

The biggest investors to London, says Sir Edward, are the Qataris. In 2010, Harrods was acquired by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) for £1.5 billion; the Olympic village was sold to a subsidiary of the QIA, Qatari Diar, for £557 million in 2011; 6.67% of Barclays Bank is owned by the QIA – the bank’s largest shareholder; and the Shard, London’s monument to modernity and development, is 95% owned by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.

In addition, London has received much investment from China, which is the city’s second-largest overseas investor. China Investment Corporation (CIC), the country’s sovereign wealth fund, owns a 9% stake in Thames Water, and in more recent news, CIC has commenced talks to buy Deutsche Bank’s UK headquarters for £250 million.

And the legacy of the Olympics has brought with it the promise of more investment into the city as well, explains Sir Edward.

“After the Olympics, we have sensed a lot more international interest into London, although it is still too soon to tell how much will come of this,” he says. 

“People and investors from all over the world are still coming to London, and overseas banks are still setting up over here. London is still the leading destination for business in the world and continues to be the finance capital of Europe.”

Sir Edward expects that the population of London will grow by 600,000 people by 2020. “The city will need around 300,000 more homes and 500,000 more jobs," he says. "London will become a megacity and we will need continued investment.”