27 May 2021

A champion of green finance, a great man: tributes flood in for Sir Roger Gifford

Sir Roger Gifford

Tributes were being paid today to Sir Roger Gifford after it was announced that he died at home on Tuesday from myeloma.

Sir Roger, a senior banker at SEB, served as Chair of the UK's Green Finance Institute and was a prominent and much respected figure at the heart of the push to green the UK's financial system.

He was previously Chair of the Green Finance Initiative, launched in London in 2016 to focus on growing the contribution of the financial sector to the G20 climate agenda, and chaired the UK Government's Green Finance Taskforce.

Sir Roger was Lord Mayor of the City of London in 2012-13 and was knighted in 2014 for services to international business, culture and the City. He was a Trustee of St Paul's Cathedral Foundation, Chairman of the English Chamber Orchestra charity and the Tenebrae Choir and Co-Founder – with his wife Clare – of the City Music Foundation.

He was also past master of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, Governor of Sedbergh School, Honorary Fellow of Trinity College Oxford and Honorary Consul of the Republic of Lithuania in the county of Dorset.

A selection of tributes can be found below:

Ben Caldecott, director at the Oxford Sustainable Finance Programme and director at the UK Centre for Greening Finance & Investment, told Environmental Finance:

"Sir Roger was an emphatic champion of green finance in the UK and internationally. As a senior banker at SEB and a former Lord Mayor he was a highly effective and influential advocate for greening the global financial system.

"This could and should, of course, start with his own City of London. He could see the huge commercial opportunities associated with providing the financial products and services required to tackle climate change: the most capital intensive transition in human history, already well underway.

"He could also see the scale of the responsibility, especially as his own profession sought to regain its reputation after the Global Financial Crisis.

"I vividly remember how focused he was on global cooperation. He always saw this as shared endeavour across countries and across finance professions globally. He really tried to avoid it becoming a zero-sum competition between financial centres and focused on it being an exciting and inclusive collaboration.

"He also focused on trying to ensure that the latest climate and environmental science found its way quickly and efficiently into financial decision-making. He actively encouraged initiatives that could translate research into decision-useful information, including work we will now dedicate to his legacy as part of the new UK Centre for Greening Finance & Investment, one of the many outcomes from the UK Green Finance Taskforce he led.

"He was always generous with his time, advice, and mentorship. He was a brilliant chair and as a result really brought out the best from the many green finance initiatives he was involved in.

"He also helped to encourage and support a whole generation of green finance practitioners and experts, of which I consider myself lucky to be part.

"He leaves a big legacy, including many recent wins in the UK, such as a green gilt and, of course, a flourishing UK Green Finance Institute."

Steve Waygood, chief responsible investment officer at Aviva Investors, told Environmental Finance:

"It was wonderful working with Roger. He could chair events with the lightest of touches and would add gravitas and humour to any occasion.

"His leadership on sustainable finance has made a real difference around the world. The Green Finance Institute would not exist without him. I will miss Roger enormously."

Christopher Flensborg at SEB told Environmental Finance:

"We are all quite in shock and are obviously touched by the very sad news.

"Roger was a highly competent and appreciated colleague who new how to be available and impact for the good without taking too much space.

"He will be greatly missed and we will do our best to let his ideas and inspiration live on."

Andy Sloan, deputy CEO, strategy at Guernsey Finance and chair of Guernsey Green Finance, said on social media:

"'There is no greater imperative for bankers and investors than financing the transition to a low-carbon future.' Words of a great man, Sir Roger Gifford, who sadly passed away yesterday. Saddened and shocked.

"It was a pleasure and honour to have known and worked with him. Sir Roger was a true friend of Guersney and we would not have achieved what we have without his active support. He was instrumental in our establishment of Guernsey Green Finance.

"May he Rest In Peace. Thought and prayers with his friends and family." 

Raphaëlle Vallet, sustainable finance manager at Green Investment Group, posted on social media:

"As many of us who work in green finance, I've been completely heartbroken to hear about Sir Roger Gifford's passing away.

"Sir Roger was a mentor, a role model and a friend and I'll remember him above all for how inclusive he was.

"When you saw Sir Roger from a distance, you'd see a charismatic, white upper class bloke and think he was your typical senior banker – but he gave his time and energy to everyone, no matter their seniority, gender, ethnicity or where they came from.

"In a sector that is so typically exclusive and cliquey, he made us all feel like we belonged in the green finance family and like we all had an equally important part to play. He was a force for good for the whole sector and in people's lives and careers, my own included.

"Let's get to COP26 and beyond by carrying on Sir Roger's mindset and by asking ourselves – would we make him proud?"

Lucy Moran, a climate policy manager at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, posted on social media:

"I was enormously sad to hear yesterday about Sir Roger Gifford's passing. The whole BEIS team were incredibly fond of him – he was warm, enthusiastic and never refused an opportunity to champion green finance in the UK, which he did so effortlessly.

"He should be proud of all the huge progress that's been made in the last five years. My thoughts are with his family but also those that worked closely with him at Green Finance Institute City of London Corporation and SEB who I am sure will miss him.
#greenfinance #inspirationalleader" 

To leave a tribute in this box, email peter.cripps@environmental-finance.com