October news, insights & events
The latest from GIIA and the Infrastructure Industry
Members are invited to join us to hear from global infrastructure leaders on key topics impacting the investor landscape
Long-term plan for low carbon and resilient economy that supports growth and the environment – how will government react?
Threats of government shutdowns send the wrong signals, says our CEO Jon Phillips in an article aimed at US law makers
Talking Global Infrastructure Podcast
Our latest podcast episode delves into the findings of our new, two-yearly Infrastructure Index, which surveys 22,000 citizens in more than 30 countries around the world about their infrastructure priorities.
We’re joined by Ben Marshall, Research Director at Ipsos, the polling company that carried out the research, who explores consumer priorities, views on how infrastructure should be funded, and national differences.
From our CEO
The question of the UK’s attractiveness as a destination for investment in infrastructure has become a mainstream topic of debate in recent months and I would like to think that GIIA has been instrumental in elevating that discussion through our advocacy work.
Few would disagree that the UK should be seen as one of the most attractive destinations given the size of its economy, the rule of law, the relative openness to private capital, desire to attract foreign direct investment, and the expertise of the many institutions involved in infrastructure including regulators, national advisory bodies, and private sector investors and advisors headquartered or represented in London.
However, ask most investors about where the UK sits as an investment destination at this moment and many will give you a fairly downbeat assessment, as you will see in GIIA’s latest pulse survey, due for publication in November.
Investor sentiment towards the UK has been on a downward track for a few years now. The seemingly endless debate around Brexit, the threat of Jeremy Corbyn’s hard left agenda followed by multiple changes at No. 10, the international market’s reaction to ‘Trussonomics’, the adversarial approach to regulation in the utility sector and more recently the shifts in what was assumed to be stable, long term policy direction on net zero have all added to a sense of malaise surrounding the UK’s prospects. To paraphrase many conversations I have had with members over recent months, ‘it would take a brave person to take a UK proposal to an international investment committee with so many opportunities to compete for capital in other markets’.
Yet there are signs for optimism emerging. There were clear messages to the government from the National Infrastructure Commission - its independent expert body on infrastructure – in this month’s Second National Infrastructure Assessment on providing policy clarity and pro-investment regulation. There are similar signals coming from the Department of Business & Trade on economic growth and net zero being added to regulators’ duties.
In addition, there is the passing of the Energy Bill (at last!); positive messages from the Labour front bench team about the vital role of private investment in infrastructure; soon-to-be-published recommendations on foreign direct investment following a review by Lord Harrington; and high expectations that the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on 22 November will contain some positive announcements around the UK’s desire to compete for international private capital. All these suggest the tide may be turning.
I am looking forward to unpacking all these issues and more at our annual conference in London on 14 November. If you have not yet signed up to attend, please do register here.
Register to attend the launch of the 2023 CMS Infrastructure Index in London
Date: 7 November 2023 I Location: CMS Office, City of London
Members of our Emerging Leaders in Infrastructure Investment network are invited to join us for festive drinks and networking
Date: 6 December 2023 I Location: TBC, City of London
Members are encouraged to join us for the first All Member Call of the year, in which we'll run through our 2024 priorities
Date: 16 January 2024 I Location: Online
New Republican speaker extends funding authority
As October ended, House Republicans chose Mike Johnson (R-LA) to be the next Speaker of the House, two weeks after ousting Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Johnson, a conservative and Trump supporter, is relatively unknown and until now held mid-level Republican leadership positions. To avoid a shutdown of the government when the existing spending authorization ends on 17 November, he has already called for an extension of its funding authority to January or April of next year, says our US representative David Quam.
GIIA’s chief executive Jon Phillips has written an opinion piece for The Hill, the leading political news website in the US on the potential consequences of a shutdown. ”Public-private partnerships build infrastructure. Don’t let government dysfunction tear it down” focuses on the uncertainty created by talk of shutdowns, and the increased risks for investors asking whether the US is a safe bet.
While Congress struggles, the Biden Administration continues to highlight its successes in implementing the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA), including the release of its Major Project tracker, which catalogues IIJA-funded infrastructure projects funded by all 50 states.
We attended the US Governors’ Policy Directors meeting in Nashville, Tennessee this month, where officials from more than 30 states gathered to review policy priorities facing state and local governments. One of the key topics concerned innovations in transportation and transit that are challenging existing laws and regulations, such as automated vehicles and the transition to electric vehicle charging.
Panelists from Waymo and Amazon discussed the migration to electric and driverless vehicles, and the need to develop, finance and deploy new physical and legal infrastructure to make these technologies viable and accessible.
This week we hosted a webinar to help members delve into the polarising topic of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues in the United States, and to examine the potential repercussions of anti-ESG legislation on investors.
The US landscape around ESG is changing rapidly, with varying approaches adopted by different states. This lack of a unified approach has the potential to impact global investors as they grapple with multiple regulatory jurisdictions, and was the topic tackled by the webinar hosts, law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and communications agency ROKK Solutions.
Despite a lack of public understanding of ESG, there is a shared desire across party lines, with voters from both the Republican and Democratic parties expressing a common interest in corporations that contribute to the betterment of society.
It is perhaps surprising that while the Republican party has embraced anti-ESG policies as a key platform, their voters lean towards a lighter regulatory touch involving less market interference. By contrast, Democratic voters who are more in favour of ESG policies also want more comprehensive legislation regarding ESG investing.
The complexity of public sentiment towards ESG means investors are confronted with significant hurdles in communication. Members discussed the critical importance of emphasising the advantages that ESG investment principles offer to communities, and that conveying the benefits of ESG to sceptical voters can take time. They also stressed how ESG, as a risk management framework, helps pension fund members secure a dependable and sustainable source of income.
Parties join battle over attracting investors
Politics around infrastructure is heating up as the country heads for a general election within the next 12 months, notes our new Policy & Public Affairs Manager, Nick Elliott.
The Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement on 22 November should be an important moment for establishing some of the policy clarity and stability that investors seek, and we’re hoping for announcements that echo the proposals we've been sharing with the government and opposition Labour party over the last few months.
During October, we have further highlighted investors’ asks through a formal submission to the Autumn Statement consultation process. We and five GIIA members joined a Treasury roundtable with the Exchequer Secretary Gareth Davies and Transport Minister Huw Merriman, where we reinforced investor concerns about the relative lack of attractiveness of the UK as an investment destination and about regulatory issues that need to be addressed. We’re hoping that our written and face-to-face engagement will mean the points we’ve raised will find their way into the Autumn Statement.
In addition to this meeting with ministers, our CEO Jon Phillips joined a roundtable led by Lord Harrington, who is leading a review of the government’s approach to attracting foreign direct investment. The conversation centred on how the UK can enhance infrastructure investment and reform economic regulation. Encouragingly, we've received positive feedback indicating that our perspectives are resonating with the Treasury and have fed heavily into Lord Harrington’s forthcoming report to the Chancellor and Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch.
It’s worth recalling that in his Spring Budget, the Chancellor promised to return in the Autumn Statement with a plan to deliver more investment opportunities in the UK, including “measures to unlock productive investment from defined contribution pension funds and other sources… and complete our response to the challenges created by the US Inflation Reduction Act”.
In terms of our broader government engagement, we've continued our dialogue with the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero on the Renewables Obligations Scheme (ROC), Review of Electricity Market Arrangements (REMA) and the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT). We have provided a response to the ROC scheme’s call for evidence, and a long-awaited second round of consultation on REMA is finally on the horizon. As soon as it materialises, we’re ready to offer a comprehensive response on members’ behalf.
On the political front, we've been keeping a close eye on both the Conservative and Labour parties, especially after their annual conferences. It was great to see members at the post-conference season ‘download’ that we hosted with political strategists Global Counsel.
As you can see there’s plenty happening in terms of our UK activity and even more in the pipeline. A topic of immediate interest is the government's next steps regarding its review of economic regulation. I'm keen to gather insights from members to ensure that our stance on regulation is both precise and comprehensive. Please keep an eye on your inbox for further updates from our end. If you have any questions or want to dive deeper into any of our policy positions, feel free to drop me an email at email@example.com.
Work to do before the holidays
Walk down the corridors of the Berlaymont or other EU institutions and you won’t notice any Christmas decorations just yet. says our Senior Policy & Public Affairs Manager, Harvey Chandler.There’s still work to do.
With little more than six months until the Parliamentary election consumes parts of Brussels, there’s a push to conclude outstanding legislation and finalise revisions to the Multiannual Financial Framework, deciding where money will be allocated for the remainder of the 2021-27 period. Better to reach agreement now some say, than wait for an election and the six-to-nine month period of agenda setting that follows.
One area of much needed progress has been the European Wind Power Action Plan launched on 24 October, which goes some way to addressing auction design, permitting and supply chain issues that are hampering the EU’s ambitions to roll out an additional 215GW of wind capacity by 2030.
The proposal to index auction prices and tariffs, and give the European Investment Bank a more active role in de-risking financing for wind projects, will provide much needed certainty for institutional investors. We now await the Wind Energy Charter which is due by the end of 2023, and we will continue to engage the Commission and others on how similar support can be provided across other technologies crucial to the energy transition.
Further progress on the electricity market redesign was made during October, with the Council of the European Union agreeing its position ahead of negotiations with the European Parliament, which the Spanish Presidency will work to conclude by the end of the year.
Member States agreed to promote the uptake of power purchase agreements, introduce mandatory contracts for difference when public funding is used (with exceptions), and maintain capacity mechanisms to remunerate power plants. What is less clear is the Council’s position on revenue caps introduced in 2022, with the Commission and Parliament both recognising the impact this has had on investment in renewables over the past year.
With the completion of transport sections of the Fitfor55 package, attention in the Commission has turned towards implementation by member states in 2024 and beyond. It’s crucial that the measures introduced through binding regulation have the correct funding and policy frameworks in place to support investments in the decarbonisation of new and existing transport infrastructure, and the rollout of alternative fuel infrastructure. These range from onshore power supplies at ports, to sustainable aviation fuel, to EV chargers and hydrogen refuelling facilities.
We continue to be active in addressing the needs of investors, recently meeting with member states and the Commission at the 12th intermodal conference to set out the steps now needed to mobilise investment in completion of the Trans-European Network for Transport (TEN-T).
We're delighted to announce that two new members have joined the GIIA community.
A cross-practice team, advising funds, private and listed markets and equity investment companies across a range of sectors including energy, transport and utilities.
Infrastructure around the globe
The UK government wants to persuade pension schemes to invest a portion of their funds into infrastructure
Efforts to tackle climate change could be put at risk unless action is taken to improve and expand the world’s electricity grids
The president has announced seven hydrogen manufacturing hubs in the US which will be awarded funds from a $7bn IIJA pot
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