The Scottish Government are creating a major new bank: the Scottish National Investment Bank. Instead of funding more business-as-usual, this new public bank could be just what we need to drive a just transition to a zero carbon economy.
Consultation on National Investment Bank Bill
Scotland’s economy remains deeply dependent on fossil fuels, the burning of which is driving devastating changes to the global climate. We need public investment to build a sustainable and fair economy.
The Scottish Government public consultation about their plans for a Scottish National Investment Bank closed on 31 October 2018.
Scotland urgently needs public finance to stimulate a just transition to a zero-carbon economy.
That’s why in 2016, working with the New Economics Foundation and Common Weal, we published ‘Banking for the Common Good’ which proposed a new, publicly-owned and democratic approach to banking reform, including the establishment of a Scottish National Investment Bank (SNIB).
The proposal received the support of UK Labour Party and the SNP membership. In September 2017 the Scottish Government announced they would create the Bank, earmarking funding in the budget and pubishing an implementation in February.
Organisations including UNISON, RSPB Scotland, SCIAF, Common Weal and Engender say that the Bank could make Scotland fairer and greener. We believe that if given the right mandate and leadership this new Bank could make the critical difference in funding a just transition to a low-carbon economy in Scotland.
Our vision for a green and ethical bank
Friends of the Earth Scotland believes the Scottish National Investment Bank must:
Exist to make Scotland greener and more equal, investing in zero carbon and inclusive projects and ruling out lending to poor employers, polluters and fossil fuel producers.
Be a public body with the full powers of a bank, such that it can intervene to direct the development of Scotland’s economy.
Be able to invest public and private funds in publicly-owned infrastructure, as well as ethical businesses.
Have governance structures that reflect Scotland’s diversity and include people from across the country’s regions, industrial sectors, trade unions and civil society.
This is a vision for a powerful, public, green and ethical bank that invests for the common good of all. We strongly believe such a Bank is within reach, but it will not come about without effort.
What progress is the Scottish Government making?
Following the publication of the Scottish National Investment Bank’s Implementation Plan we are encouraged by the Scottish Government’s focus on inclusivity and addressing climate change, with the First Minister telling Friends of the Earth Scotland that it would be “unthinkable” for the Bank not to focus on low-carbon lending.
However we are concerned that the Bank’s good intentions could be undermined by its broader objective to increase economic growth, a lack of representation of marginalised groups in the Bank’s development, and the narrow ambition of its initial lending efforts.
Professor Mariana Mazzucato is a leading thinker on public investment and sits on the Scottish Government’s Council of Economic Advisors. She spoke about the Scottish National Investment Bank at our event ‘Building the Future’ in 2017.
Friends of the Earth Scotland has been advocating for a Scottish National Investment Bank for some years. Here’s our recommend reading:
Parliamentary Briefing on the Scottish National Investment Bank published March 2018. Download here.
Banking for the Common Good report by Gemma Bone, published by Friends of the Earth Scotland, New Economics Foundation and Common Weal in 2016, asseses the banking crisis nearly a decade on and proposes a new local and national public banking architecture for Scotland, founded on a national investment bank. Download here.
Public Investment Banks: Towards a Better Model report published by the European Network on Debt and Development in 2017, reviews best (and worst) practice internationally for public investment banks. Download here.
Explainer: What exacty is a Scottish National Investment Bank and what will it do? Article by Sean Bell on Common Space, read here.
Our work on banking reform
Friends of the Earth Scotland has been campaigning for reform of Scottish finance for over 10 years. Find our more about our research, creative campaigning and the changes our work has made:
A Just Transition means working together on climate action
Scotland’s new Climate Bill focuses attention on when we become zero carbon, but also on the ‘What? and How?’ of getting there. The idea of a ‘Just Transition’ can ensure that this process enhances social justice, protects livelihoods and creates a fairer and more equal nation.