In the latest in our series looking at green collar jobs at National Grid, we hear from Emilie Siebenborn, Assistant Manager, Capital Markets, who tells us about her work in the fast-growing area of green financing.
I’m a Capital Markets Assistant Manager, based in London. As part of my role in raising long-term debt to finance the group, I work on green financing (green bonds) to fund projects that have positive environmental and/or climate benefits. These include clean energy projects and projects that support the decarbonisation of our networks or protect our natural environment.
I led the drafting of our Green Financing Framework, which is the set of guidelines under which we issue green bonds and loans. I also played a major part in issuing the green bonds themselves and coordinated the work on our Green Financing Report, which details how we allocated the proceeds from our financing activities and the positive environmental impact.
Besides allowing us to fund the business in an optimal way, green financing reinforces our sustainability commitments and supports our efforts to decarbonise the energy system. It’s also a great way for our investors to be involved in our commitment to reaching net zero, supporting our transition to clean energy.
I feel that green finance is playing its part in the company’s sustainability goals and that’s very motivating.
Green financing is still a relatively new but fast-growing area, so my role also involves following market trends, expectations and regulatory developments in order to identify best market practices and innovative green financing opportunities for the group.
When I joined National Grid, over two years ago, green financing was not a key priority, but it became clear very quickly that debt investors were focusing more and more on environmental, social and governance related matters.
I had to quickly acquire and develop expertise in green financing to be able to have a view, advise on the directions to take and lead reliably on the various projects. I’ve found this challenge very enriching.
Along with colleagues from the Sustainability team, UK regulated business, US regulated business, National Grid Ventures and Finance, we worked as one team to deliver a product that’s in demand for our debt investors, that raises attractive financing for us and that demonstrates the importance of responsible business at National Grid.
I believe this is a great achievement and I’m very proud that our work has been recognised internally as a strategically important finance project – we were a winner of the 'enabling the energy transition for all' category in the recent Chairman’s Awards.
Building a broad perspective of the business
Working in green financing requires a good understanding not only of capital markets, but also of our wider business – its drivers, issues, concerns and activities – as well as the different green projects throughout the UK and US. This is something that I really enjoy, as it makes my role very concrete. For instance, I know what specific projects our NIMO and NGET bonds fund, such as the connection of the Galloper wind farm in the UK or our Osprey mitigation / avian protection programme in Upstate New York.
A pathway to green financing
I’ve always been very interested in the natural environment and biodiversity. Growing up in the French countryside, in the French Alps and then in Burgundy, certainly helped foster my interest in nature from a young age.
My awareness and interest in climate-related issues and clean energy emerged much later though, when I was studying. I have a bachelor’s degree in political sciences and a master’s degree in economics and business from Sciences Po Paris, France.
I found the strategic role of energy in modern (geo)politics, and the political and economic impact of climate change and energy transition, fascinating. This led me to choose to work in the energy industry.
Starting out in solar
Prior to National Grid, I worked for nearly three years in various positions in finance at Total SE, both in Paris and London, starting as a trainee in corporate and project finance for Total’s solar projects. This first professional experience sealed my desire to work on the financing of green energy projects.
My green life…
I’m eco-aware with my use of transport – I voluntarily (and happily) don’t own a car, so either cycle or use public transport. I also use air travel less and instead take the Eurostar when I return home to France.
I think of myself as a considerate consumer and I’ve adapted my consumption habits to be more responsible by ‘buying locally,’ looking for locally-produced products and avoiding those wrapped in plastic as much as possible. This includes fruits, vegetables, soap and shampoo, and single-use plastic containers for example. I prioritise seasonal fruit and veg, and I limit consumption of food that has a detrimental environmental or social impact, such as avocados or meat.
My eco hero is…
Well, Sir David Attenborough is obviously my first choice, but in reality there are many eco-heroes in everyday life. I believe that we all have our role to play in the protection of the environment and the fight against climate change – and for this reason, the education and awareness of the general public is critical.
That’s why my second hero would be Nicolas Hulot, for his actions in informing the public of the necessity to protect our planet and change our individual behaviours, and to put environmental and climate issues at the centre of public and private policies.