Plans announced for the Green Investment Bank

Vince Cable yesterday announced more detailed plans for the green investment bank, including some indication of the type of projects that will be financed. The bank will be the first of its kind in the world, specifically designed to fund the new low carbon green economy. The announcement, and publication of a progress report by the department of business innovation and skills, follows a speech given by Nick Clegg at an event hosted by Climate Change Capital.

The deputy Prime Minister emphasised the need to consider the reasons for investing, including preserving the environment on which we rely for the next generation. He also mentioned the economic incentive to make the UK the world leaders in producing green technology, suggesting that many companies could set up manufacturing plants in the UK.

In an oral statement to the House of Commons Vince Cable focussed on the legally binding commitment made by the government to reduce carbon emissions 50% by 2050, and the need to revolutionise our energy and transport sectors, and invest in green infrastructure to achieve this target. He also noted the requirement for stable long term green policies to encourage investment in green infrastructure, which will flow through the green investment bank. £3 billion will initially be invested in the bank.

The progress report published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills picks out the Water Framework Directive and Air Quality Standards Regulations as other key legislation to be supported by the green investment bank. Money will be invested in waste water management and improving flood defences replacing loss of funding due to Defra budget cuts. Money will also be invested in improving air quality and reducing emissions from vehicles.

Both Nick Clegg and Vince Cable noted the economic benefits of investment in green infrastructure in terms of saving energy and money, however there was no mention of investment to protect ecosystem services, and biodiversity, or the possible cost of inaction in these areas. Investment in better protection of ecosystem services will be vital for protecting the environment for the next generation.