Stop the presses! Poor Nick Clegg (trademark: the whole of Westminster) has had a pretty good day.
Pulling rank on Vince Cable and Chris Huhne he used a speech in the City to finally announce further details on the government's long-awaited Green Investment Bank, delivering some much needed good economic news and scoring a few political points by demonstrating how the self-styled "greenest of the main three parties" is delivering working green policies as a party of government.
Many of the details are largely in line with expectations, but it is still fantastic news for green businesses to see them confirmed, particularly after there were yet more whispers in Whitehall that the Treasury and the Department for Business were looking to rein in the ambition of the new institution.
We now know that the bank will be backed by legislation designed to ensure it becomes "part of the institutional architecture of this country". We know that the £3bn promised by the Treasury is not dependent on raising £2bn from asset sales and will be delivered even if those asset sales do not bring in as much cash as anticipated.
We know that the bank will begin lending from April next year, a pretty demanding deadline given that it does not yet exist in any meaningful sense. We know that the government will investigate using the bank to finance parts of the Green Deal scheme, as requested by numerous green groups. We know the bank will be able to borrow from capital markets. And we know, as we knew before, that all borrowing will be delayed until 2014/15 and only then if the UK meets its debt reduction targets.
This is a pretty solid package of measures and if, as anticipated by the government, the bank is able to leverage a further £15bn of private sector investment, the UK will have a new institution capable of laying the foundations for the low carbon economy over the next five years. Add in an effective Green Deal and Electricity Market Reforms that really do make it attractive for private investors to back low carbon energy projects, and you start to have the bare bones of a genuinely effective green policy framework.
The problem, and the point at which Clegg's good day soured a little, is that the short-term economic constraints the government faces mean that this impressive new institution still looks underpowered.
Following his speech, Clegg was asked by Bloomberg New Energy Finance's Michael Liebreich whether the £3bn promised by the bank was sufficient given calls for nations to invest up to two per cent of GDP in delivering the low carbon transition.
The question brought a rather ill-tempered response to a perfectly reasonable inquiry - maybe the pressure of being public enemy number one is getting to the Deputy Prime Minister. Clegg insisted the £3bn is an "extraordinary commitment", adding that, while he "wished" it was more, it represented a great settlement that would act as a starting point from which to drive the hundreds of billions of pounds of investment that is required. He then, rather petulantly, added that people did not understand quite how difficult it was to secure even £3bn when every other department wants that money too.
All of which rather misses the point. Everyone understands that it is extremely difficult to make spending decisions when money is tight, but if climate change is an existing threat and the low carbon economy is one of your very top priorities (as the government maintains it is) then you have to match that rhetoric with financial commitments. Quite frankly, £3bn is not enough, particularly when you are then going to stop the bank borrowing for entirely arbitrary accounting reasons.
The government may insist that the money is not there, but Chancellor George Osborne found money for a completely ineffective cut in fuel duty when he wanted to, suggesting that funds can be uncovered for political priorities when it is deemed necessary.
The other problem is that the promised details are still not detailed enough. As with the Green Deal and the Electricity Market Reforms, green businesses know enough about the promised Green Investment Bank to get excited, but not enough to actually start planning investments and changing business models.
Clegg hinted that the "possible early priorities for the bank are offshore wind, waste and non-domestic energy efficiency". But under what terms will the bank lend to these sectors and is their name-checking bad news for those less mature technologies that remained unmentioned, such as solar and marine energy?
Moreover, will controversial nuclear or clean coal technologies be able to access the bank or will the main focus be on renewables? Is the bank intended to act as a venture capital-style operation providing finance to bleeding edge technologies that may take decades to come to fruition, or is it intended as an infrastructure bank supporting multibillion dollar wind farms and transmission projects? Should the bank lend to projects such as offshore wind farms, which should prove attractive to private investors if the government gets the electricity market reforms right? Is the primary focus going to be on energy or will the bank also back green transport, waste and resource efficiency projects?
The list of questions goes on. Will the main focus be on straight lending or are we going to see more complex insurance or loan guarantee arrangements? How will any integration with the Green Deal scheme work? When can we expect to see the first Green ISA or Green Bonds? Will the renewable sector really welcome the rumoured appointment of Sir Adrian Montague, a City grandee and the former chairman of nuclear operator British Energy? If the bank is to deliver its first loan next April, where do I lodge my application?
Again the government has delivered an attractive green policy commitment, but singularly failed to put sufficient flesh on the bones. As one green entrepreneur who runs an energy company observed after the Deputy Prime Minister had left this afternoon's meeting, he is really keen to prepare for the Green Deal and wants to play an active role in making the policy a success, but with around a year to go until its launch he still has absolutely no idea what energy companies will be required to do.
Tomorrow, Business Secretary Vince Cable is widely expected to try to answer some of the questions about the Green Investment Bank and provide further details on precisely how it will be formed. Only then will we know whether Nick Clegg and his Lib Dem colleagues can pull off two good days in a row.
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