Those hon. Members who served on the Committee will recall that we spent a great deal of time considering whether the green purposes of the green investment bank, as set out in clause 1, were appropriate—namely, whether they were too restrictive or limiting to prevent long-term investment in innovative low-carbon technologies or too wide or broad as to mean that high-carbon investments could not be considered by the bank. As I said, we deliberated over this issue in Committee at length.
Of the five criteria, only one needs to be met to justify the appropriateness of investment by the bank. Was clause 1(1)(b), which refers to
“the advancement of efficiency in the use of natural resources” sufficiently tight and robust to deal with the need to ensure that the green economy and the transition to a low-carbon economy are put into effect? In Committee, I used the example of a gas-fired power station that might be marginally more efficient in its use of the earth’s natural resources given 2012 levels, but might well be seen as hopelessly dirty and inefficient by 2030.
That is the purpose of new clause 22—to deal with concerns that investments by the bank might not be in keeping with its green purposes, or at least the spirit behind those purposes. That is why we thought that making an explicit link with the Climate Change Act 2008 would be the best way for an appropriate balance to be struck between giving the bank the flexibility to consider its investment portfolio and ensuring that it cannot and does not decide to fund high-carbon investments. New clause 22 therefore proposes that the green investment assesses whether its investment portfolio helps the achievement of carbon budget and greenhouse reduction targets as set out under the 2008 legislation.