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National Infrastructure Bank must drive investment in low carbon and natural capital projects

8th February 2021

The Aldersgate Group is part of a group of twenty organisations which wrote a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week to make recommendations for the design and mission of the new UK National Infrastructure Bank, as announced in the 2020 Spending Review. As the UK faces the triple crises of climate, biodiversity and COVID-19, the Aldersgate Group believes that a core focus of the Bank should be to play a vital role in setting long-term committed public funding and unlocking further private finance. This approach can drive the Prime Minister’s desire for a green industrial revolution across the country and help the UK bounce back from the COVID-19 crisis.  

The Bank should be established as a mission-driven institution with a legal mandate to achieve the levelling up agenda, the UK’s net zero emissions target and its ambition to reverse the decline of the natural environment within a generation. The Bank’s primary objective should be to genuinely address market failures and act as a de-risking vehicle to ‘crowd in’ private capital towards the technologies, skills and institutions that will be needed to build a thriving net zero emissions economy. These should include the emerging technologies needed to decarbonise complex parts of the economy, such as hydrogen and carbon capture, use and storage, but also natural capital and nature-based solutions.

Alongside twenty other signatories, the Aldersgate Group believes that the National Infrastructure Bank should be fully independent, led by an experienced public banker and a board which reflects the sectors with which the bank will interact. It should also have sufficient funding to carry out its mission and functions. Finally, signatories call on the Bank to have the power to access capital markets for both debt and equity, and to create opportunities for citizens to participate and invest in the UK’s transition to a net zero emissions economy.

The letter to the Chancellor was supported by a detailed policy briefing accessible here.

Businesses need nature at heart of economic policy making

2nd February 2021

Reacting to the publication of Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta’s Independent Review on the Economics of Biodiversity, Signe Norberg, Head of Public Affairs and Communications at the Aldersgate Group, said: "The publication of the Dasgupta Review today powerfully demonstrates the huge disconnect between current models of economic growth and the state of nature. Given the alarming rate at which some natural assets are being depleted, today’s review must constitute a vital step change in how we assess nature and measure economic success. Concretely, this means that it is high time we look beyond GDP and include natural capital at the heart of our economic measurement tools, something which many businesses and financial institutions have raised for a number of years [1]. It is also essential that the Government’s net zero and nature restoration agendas be progressed hand in hand given how interconnected they both are."

Signe Norberg added: "It is clear from the findings of the Dasgupta Review that a wide range of actions need to be taken to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, including growing investment in nature restoration and resource efficiency, accelerating the transition to net zero emissions, and embedding environmental sustainability at the heart of the education system. It is therefore essential that today’s findings now drive stronger commitments as part of the Environment Bill, the integration of biodiversity net gain in the planning system, the implementation of the Resources and Waste Strategy, the development of the UK’s net zero strategy and the Government’s ongoing review of skills policy."

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[1] The Aldersgate Group published a report in November 2015, Investing in our natural assets: how government can support business action, which highlighted important steps to ensure the UK achieves a resilient and competitive economy that carefully maintains and improves the state of its natural resources.