Green finance is a key Government priority. The Chancellor recently announced the creation of a new green finance institute to ensure that our world-leading green finance expertise is available to UK and international firms. This was the first recommendation of the green finance taskforce, and further responses from the Government will come in due course.
I commend my hon. Friend for the action that the Government have already taken in this area, but does he agree that we should encourage green investment to support new technologies, especially in the energy sector, to help develop devices that can bring down household bills, make us more efficient, waste less energy and cut down on our greenhouse emissions? That is the subject of my ten-minute rule Bill tomorrow.
I agree with my hon. Friend. It is absolutely the case that every household and small business will have those advantages by 2020 through the supply of smart meters. According to data from a leading energy supplier, we are already seeing energy efficiency savings of around 4% on annual consumption.
The Minister will know from the UN that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish, so will he ensure that the Chancellor brings forward a Budget with a comprehensive fiscal strategy that ensures that plastic producers pay 100% of the recycling and that targets tax on plastics according to their recyclability?
We are very interested in that area and have published a response to the call for evidence. I am sure that the Chancellor will have heard the hon. Gentleman’s representations.
Will the Minister respond positively to the report of the Environmental Audit Committee on green finance, particularly by encouraging investment institutions such as pension funds to consider the long-term risks that climate change may pose to their investee companies?
Absolutely. Only two hours ago, the Department for Work and Pensions published its consultation response on pension trustees’ duties, which clearly sets out the Government’s intention to raise the profile of financially material climate change factors in investment decisions.
The Minister will be more than aware of the Ernst and Young report earlier this year indicating that Scottish GDP, including Scotland’s geographical share of renewable energy, oil and gas, grew at 3.4% as opposed to the UK’s 3.1%, despite lots of inaction from the current Government. Will the Government provide Holyrood with the powers over energy revenues to ensure that Scotland can continue with this lead in economic growth and make sure that the green energies of the future are invested in properly?
Absolutely. Green energy is very important to the UK economy as a whole; it is just very unfortunate that the rate of growth in the Scottish economy is half as strong as in the rest of the United Kingdom.