The Green Investment Bank must be a bank and not a fund if it is to successfully deliver transformative change, the Environmental Audit Select Committee recommends in its latest report. It should also be free of political interference, remedy market failures and be given a significant sum of money for capitalisation.
The Woodland Trust welcomes the call for the GIB to be more than a fund and were pleased to see that the Committee noted our evidence which highlighted woodland creation as a possible investment option and a means of marketing a green ISA. It was also great to see our Trustee, Elliot Mannis, quoted on a number of occasions in the report.
We’ve said in the past that any Green Investment Bank should invest in green infrastructure. However we were disappointed to see the term ‘green infrastructure’ used to describe a range of engineering solutions to climate change. We must invest in ‘soft’ engineering solutions, in improving our green infrastructure – trees and green space – as a way of decarbonising our energy supply also, crucial in mitigating climate change. For green infrastructure to have genuine environmental meaning, the Natural England definition should be used:
‘green infrastructure is a planned network of multifunctional green spaces and inter-connecting links which is designed, developed and managed to meet the environmental, social and economic needs’.
Green infrastructure therefore compromises our natural treasures such as native woodland, SSSI’s, urban parks and gardens, nature reserves and land in agri-management.
For the GIB to be a genuinely green bank it must find mechanisms to fund conservation objectives such as native woodland creation alongside projects to decarbonise our energy supply. As the Read Report noted increasing the rate of tree planting would make a significant contribution to absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. Woodland creation is also a vital action in helping to tackling contemporary challenges such as climate change mitigation and adaptation, wildlife loss, improving public health – both physical and mental – and shaping places where people want to live, work and spend their leisure time.
Lee Bruce, Government Affairs Officer