New Home(s) For UK Green Investment Bank

£3bn of UK taxpayers money has been allocated to help businesses finance early-stage, new and untested renewable energy projects through the Green Investment Bank (GIB), which will incidentally, be the world’s first bank dedicated to supporting a low carbon economy.  £775 million is to be invested in the first year alone with £200 billion as the estimated figure required for the UK to transition to a low carbon economy. Edinburgh and London have this week been chosen as the dual homes of the Green Investment Bank (GIB). The aim is to play to the strengths of London’s leading global financial reputation and resources to complement Scotland’s obvious natural assets such as the emerging marine and already established and growing onshore and offshore wind energy resource. Edinburgh as a city also has an impressively strong reputation as a financial centre. The five priorities for the GIB are offshore wind power generation; commercial and industrial waste processing and recycling; energy from waste generation; non-domestic energy efficiency and support for the Green Deal. I’m sure the ongoing political debate about Scottish independence played more than a small role in the decision making process, as this announcement if nothing else, helps reinforce the relationships between the two capital cities. The competition was tough and the winners hard to argue against. It was always likely, and almost an open secret in some political circles, that London was always going to be included in any final solution to facilitate tight Treasury control. For full disclosure I should admit to a tinge of personal sadness as my home town of an economically resurgent Liverpool (once a channel for 40% of world trade according to Wikipedia) was one of the other cities bidding to host the new bank but alas, no such luck this time around The proof will be in the sustainable pudding here. Like any investment vehicle there are no guarantees on returns, either financial or environmental and the challenges are substantial, but not as big as the risks of getting it wrong. Global energy players like Samsung and Mitsubishi have already invested heavily in Scotland and it will be fascinating to watch both the subsequent growth (hopefully) of the UK environmental technology sector and also the stand alone longer term commercial viability of the GIB itself. This announcement also comes at a time when the UK government along with European allies including Denmark, is pushing for a reassessment of carbon reduction targets that is generating internal EU friction with states such as Poland that are allegedly against a 5% increase in carbon targets to 2020. Poland’s objection relates to the fine balance economic point between pushing for sustainable leadership and pricing EU markets out of global competition with less stringent, and therefore cheaper, regulation.