Lord Deben in conflict of interest row over his green clients — yet again


By Paul Homewood

From the Telegraph:

One of the Government’s leading Net Zero advisers is facing questions over whether he correctly declared his interests after it emerged that his company advised a firm specialising in clean energy projects.

Lord Deben, who chairs the climate change committee (CCC), is also the chairman of a consultancy that has worked with an investment firm responsible for financing “environmental infrastructure markets”.

The CCC is a statutory body advising the Government on greenhouse gas emissions targets. In 2019, it recommended that ministers adopt a target for Net Zero greenhouse gases by 2050.

Lord Deben founded and chairs Sancroft, which bills itself as an “international sustainability consultancy”.
Last month, Sancroft posted an online job advertisement for a “sustainability/ESG (environmental, social and governance) senior analyst or analyst”. The job advert listed a number of “recent clients” of Sancroft, including a company called Sustainable Development Capital.

According to Sustainable Development Capital LLP’s website, it is a “specialist investment firm” with a “proven track record of financing and developing clean energy, energy efficiency and decentralised energy infrastructure projects”, including in the UK.

“SDCL was launched to facilitate investment into environmental infrastructure markets,” the site says. “It has always focused on investing in projects that are good for the environment, good for people and commercially sustainable. Indeed, it has always said that ‘if it is not commercial, it is not sustainable’”.

However, Sancroft’s role advising the firm is not listed in Lord Deben’s House of Lords register of interest. This register does include other clients of Sancroft, noting that the firm has been “asked by Bain & Company (management consultants) to work with them in advising the Qatari government on their sustainability programme”.

It also notes that Sancroft has advised “Greencoat Capital Ltd on sustainability”. The company, now known as Schroders Greencoat, is a “specialist manager dedicated to the renewable energy infrastructure sector”.

There is also no reference to Sustainable Development Capital in the CCC’s latest register of interests for the 2022-23 financial year, although the register once again mentions the fact that Sancroft has worked with Greencoat Capital.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Graham Stringer, a Labour MP who sits on the Commons science and technology select committee, said Lord Deben should urgently make sure he had correctly registered his interests.

He said: “Politicians, particularly Lords, have got a bad name at the moment, and people who don’t declare their interests are undermining trust in politics.”

Marcus Fysh, a Conservative MP, said: “It’s important to be transparent about these matters. I think it’s a risk that there is the perception of a bias if this stuff is not declared.”

Mr Stringer claimed Lord Deben had “proved resistant about declaring his interests at different bodies” in the past.
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