The UK may set up a new green development bank to help finance its net-zero ambitions, as the minister who oversaw the sell-off of the original version admitted that decision had been “daft”.
Energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng told climate groups that discussions over a “Green Investment Bank 2.0” are underway within the UK government.
“I fully expect there may well be announcements in that regard in the not-too-distant future,” Kwarteng told them, according to the Financial Times. The minister said the exact nature of the bank was still up for discussion, but “the fact that we are now committed to net-zero over the next 30 years, and clearly the fact that we need a huge amount of investment to have any chance of getting there, suggests there may well be scope [for a development bank].
The creation of a new green bank would come just three years after the UK government sold its original Green Investment Bank (GIB) in a £2.3bn ($2.9bn) deal with global finance giant Macquarie, which renamed it Green Investment Group (GIG) and took its ambitions international.
Claire O’Neill, who as energy minister oversaw that deal in 2017, said in a Twitter reaction to news of the second green bank plan: “I was the minister that was made to sell Green Investment Bank 1.0. That was a daft mistake from which we should learn lessons.
“Renewables are bankable. Out of the money innovation and infrastructure clusters are not.”
The privatisation of the GIB was condemned by some green campaigners as damaging to the UK's clean energy ambitions, although as GIG it has remained a significant presence in the domestic British sector.
O’Neill’s final comments are an apparent reference to fears that a second green bank could target investment in the wrong areas, rather than proven technologies with the ability to help the UK meet its legally-binding net-zero goals for 2050.
The first Green Investment Bank was a global pioneer of its type when it was set up in 2012 and went on to help finance some of the UK’s biggest offshore wind projects.