UK to Start $3 Billion “Green” Investment Bank

The British government unveiled Wednesday a Green Investment Bank that will have £2 billion ($3 billion) to invest in “high risk” green projects.

A similar proposal was floated in the United States Congress last year before that institution became completely obsessed with..what was it?..oh yeah.

The British version was unveiled by Finance minister Alistair Darling as part of the latest budget from the current Labour government. Labour has been trailing in the polls, and it’s certain the green bank will be popular with its left-wing base.

But the investment cash is also important if that country is going to meet ambitious carbon-reduction targets: a 34 percent cut in emissions from 1990 levels by 2020. Going where normal banks fear to tread

According to a source quoted by Reuters:

“By providing an initial investment of government capital [the bank] will reduce the risk profile for investors and increase the incentive for the private sector to enter the market at the scale and pace needed.”

The bank will be funded half from the British government and half from private entities. To pay for its half, the UK government could sell rail lines leading to the Chunnel, a toll road near London, or a betting company,  Tote, according to Reuters.

The new bank will concentrate on green transportation infrastructure and offshore wind, according to the Guardian, which called the measure merely “pale green.”

Meanwhile, in the Colonies…

In March of last year Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) floated the now-M.I.A. Green Bank Act of 2009, which would take $10 billion in Treasury bonds to finance greentech and renewable energy projects nationwide.

Later, a similar “Clean Energy Bank” became part of the Waxman-Markey bill, and has entered the Twilight Zone along with the rest of that climate legislation.

All that remains now is the Coalition for Green Capital, which is funded by some of the country’s leading cleantech companies, utilities and VCs to advocate for some kind of government involvement in getting risky low-carbon technologies off the ground.

BC (Ben) Upham is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He has written for the New York Times, and was a writer and editor for News Communications, Inc., a local paper consortium serving Manhattan. When he's not blogging on green issues -- and especially renewable energy -- he's hiking in the Angeles Mountains or hanging out at El Matador.