Green Party slams GIB sell-off

The co-leader of the Green Party has warned the controversial sell-off of the Green Investment Bank (GIB) is bad news for "everyone who cares about the future of renewable energy".

Jonathan Bartley said the recently-announced sale to a consortium of investors led by Macquarie is a “bad deal for the taxpayer and a bad deal for the planet”.

The government completed the sale last week and its new owners have reaffirmed a commitment to meet the bank’s target of leading £3 billion of investment in green energy projects over the next three years.

“In 2016, the GIB started to make a profit and it was set to deliver an annual return of 10 per cent,” said Bartley.

“The Government was repeatedly warned that selling the GIB to Macquarie could result in asset-stripping and leave the bank unfit for purpose. The sale means taxpayers no longer have a say if this turns out to be true.”

The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable claimed selling the GIB off “risks setting the UK back years in its efforts to tackle climate change”.

“The Bank has done an extremely good job in supporting renewable energy, energy efficiency and low-carbon projects. It has managed to attract over £10 billion of private investment in these sectors that would not otherwise have happened,” said Cable.

While the founder of renewables start-up Franck Energy, Marcus Franck, told Utility Week: “The sale of the Green Investment Bank might be not be too problematic if the new owners stick to the commitment of investing in a low carbon economy.

“Their initial statements seem to suggest that this is indeed the case, although the outcome remains to be seen of course.

“In truth, we need this additional insecurity like a hole in the head. It’s difficult to see how this would result in more investment in UK renewable assets.

“It may result in more renewable asset investments, but with a new mandate they will aim to expand in other parts of the world and seek out the best projects with the most significant returns. Indeed, Claire Perry has explicitly encouraged the GIB to now operate on an international level. This could reduce the focus and emphasis on UK green initiatives.”

And Maria Connolly, a partner at UK law firm TLT, commented: “With its intention to continue to pioneer the world’s transition to a low-carbon economy, the Green Investment Group could play an important role in funding the projects needed to make the government’s vision for the UK a reality.

“We would certainly expect to see a new wave of funding for emerging technologies in the not too distant future and funders such as the Green Investment Group will undoubtedly play an important role in driving this forward.”

Jamie Hailstone

This article first appeared on edie’s sistle title website, Utility Week

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie