Govt’s green energy assurances on sale of Green Investment Bank ‘not good enough’ – MPs

Then prime minister David Cameron with senior Green Investment Bank managers in Edinburgh before it was sold off.
Then prime minister David Cameron (right) with senior Green Investment Bank managers in Edinburgh before it was sold off.

MPs on the Public Accounts Committee have said the privatisation of the Edinburgh-based Green Investment Bank ‘failed to live up to original ambitions’ – and declared that there is now no guarantee that it ever will because its ‘green intentions are not sufficiently protected’.

 MPs on the Westminster parliament’s public accounts committee produced a report criticising the Brit-Govt’s privatisation of the bank which was sold for £1.6 billion to Australia’s MacQuarie banking group.

It said: “Government chose to sell GIB before fully assessing its impact. In making decisions about GIB’s future, the Treasury prioritised reducing public debt and how much money could be gained from the sale over the continued delivery of GIB’s green objectives.

“The measures the Treasury put in place to protect GIB’s Green Purposes are not sufficient to ensure that GIB is an enduring institution. It is unclear whether Green Investment Group (GIG; the rebranded GIB under Macquarie ownership) will continue to support the government’s energy policy, or continue to have an impact on the UK’s climate change goals.”

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, MP, Deputy Chairman of the accounts committee, added: “While the government set up the Green Investment Bank to grow investment in the green economy and thus help the UK meet its climate change obligations, the manner in which it was sold off is therefore deeply regrettable.

“Government did not carry out a full assessment of the Bank’s impact before deciding to sell, nor did it secure adequate assurance over the Bank’s future role.

“This was a UK initiative but the rebranded Green Investment Group is not bound to invest in the UK’s energy policy at all, nor to invest in the kind of technologies that support its climate objectives.

“The protracted sale process put Government on the back foot; had it been shrewder, it could have secured a better return for taxpayers.

“It was a mistake to repeal legislation protecting GIB’s green investment obligations without securing firmer commitments from potential buyers.

“Macquarie told us such commitments did not affect the price it was prepared to pay, indicating the Government could and should have strengthened these commitments contractually.”

15 Mar 2018

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