Catherine Bremner

Catherine Bremner is heading to London at the end of this month to pick up a new plum role as head of science for the UK Government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, after headhunters lured her from her current role as head of sustainable finance solutions for ANZ.

Bremner was one of the stars at our green finance salon in London late last year.

  • See the ebook we published on the result of that high-level salon

She won’t be alone. Also recently headed to London is sustainability general manager for Lendlease Anita Mitchell who will now head the company’s sustainability unit in Europe.

The Fifth Estate caught up with Bremner by phone on Tuesday morning as she landed in Canberra. The new role, she said, would cover the UK’s climate change inventory assessment to make sure it would track to meet its targets. The department is also involved in the UK government’s work around energy, climate change and the Met Office.

Her new team will be staffed by between 25 and 30 people.

“I’m very excited about the role,” she said.

Bremner’s background credentials clearly snared the position. She’s worked in the UK before, for seven years with the Carbon Trust, and then came back to Australia in 2010 to be chief operating officer of Low Carbon Australia before moving the ANZ in 2012.

Stepping into Bremner’s ANZ role on an acting basis will be Katharine Tapley.

ANZ launched Australia’s inaugural green bond, a $600 million issuance, at the beginning of 2015 and now the Victorian Treasury is preparing the roadshow for the next issuance.

Her parting comments on green bonds and climate bonds? Once the dust settles from the current instability it will be all systems go.

“I think Australia’s appetite for green finance is growing. We’ve seen that in the building space with the advent of 1.5 million households with solar on their roofs. And the market for green bonds is over $40 billion. As the market settles down we will see this market grow.”

And what does she expect of the UK’s commitment to climate action after Brexit. Too hard to say from here, she answered, but what is known is that the Department of Energy and Climate Change recently released a statement reaffirming their commitment to all the targets.

Good news for now. And with Bremner inside the tent, hopefully with a bigger chance to make that so.