National Investment Bank “must be an ethical lender”

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Scotland’s proposed public bank must avoid investing in damaging projects, campaigners say. 

21st January 2020 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

Scotland’s proposed National Investment Bank must be an ethical lender, according to campaigners.

Friends of the Earth Scotland said the bank must operate under “minimal ethical standards” and avoid investing in environmentally damaging projects such as fossil fuels.

Campaigners also want to see regular information to be published about the bank’s investments, common practice in the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund, the European Investment Bank and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The call comes as MSPs prepare to vote on legislation that will grant the necessary powers for the bank to be set up as a public limited company.

Friends of the Earth Scotland campaigner Ric Lander said: “The Scottish National Investment Bank Bill now requires the bank to target finance towards a just transition away from fossil fuels to help create a zero-carbon economy. That’s good news in the fight against the climate crisis, and a testament to the hard work by campaigners to get these commitments into legislation.

“Minimum ethical standards are essential to allay concerns that the bank could invest in fossil fuel extraction, deforestation, plastic production and other projects that will push up climate emissions.

“MSPs can vote today to ensure that the bank sets minimum ethical standards for their lending. As the bank will be spending public money is only right that standards should be publicly available and open to scrutiny.

“The Scottish Government should also commit the Scottish National Investment Bank to explicitly rule out investing in fossil fuels. In the year that Scotland hosts the crucial UN climate talks, this would send a clear signal that as a country we are committed to transitioning beyond fossil fuels. Any ethical standards that permit lending to the oil industry aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.”

If the Bill to create the bank is passed on Tuesday, the next stage will be to get the bank up and running, expected later this year.