Northern Ireland’s Green New Deal?

There’s an intriguing coalition of groups behind the proposed Green New Deal for Northern Ireland. Although I can’t tell if they’re connected to this group. The briefing documents at the Friends of the Earth website [pdf file] lists those involved as – Bryson Charitable Group, Chamber of Commerce, CBI, Energy Savings Trust, Friends of the Earth, Institute of Directors, ICTU, NICVA, NI Environment Link, NI Federation of Housing Associations, NI Manufacturing, Sustainable Development Commission, Translink, and the Ulster Farmers Union. Below the fold Yvette Shapiro talks to some of those involved, and others, about the proposals and what the NI Executive have, or have not, done to date. And they will have to get that dysfunctional polit-bureau to agree to the proposals first. [Good luck with that – Ed]. Here’s Joanne Stewart of the Institute of Directors talking to Jim Fitzpatrick on the Politics Show about the proposals.

Yvette Shapiro’s report from the Politics Show

And, from the Friends of the Earth briefing document [pdf file], the crucial funding possibilities

The total cost of a full green recovery package for Northern Ireland is likely to be in the region of £900 million per annum or 3% of GVA. This is clearly a very large amount of money that is not obviously available from within the Northern Ireland block. Nevertheless, given the economic, social and environmental benefits that will flow from such spending, a significant contribution from public funds is warranted, and will have the ability to leverage significant additional investment.

Funding from within currently planned public expenditure could include:
The Barnett consequential of the recent UK economic stimulus package;
Maximising the potential of the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland for new energy investments and associated training;
Reallocating expenditure saved by tackling the inefficiencies arising from sectarian segregation and associated service duplication;
Focusing existing economic support programmes on the Green New Deal.

Much of the required investment is capable of showing an economic return at today‘s prices and will therefore be attractive to the private sector but a clear policy and financial framework is needed to enable those investments to be accelerated. It is likely that the most effective means of securing this investment will be innovative mechanisms that combine public and private sources of funding. Possibilities include:

Bond finance: capital is raised through the bond markets for investment in energy saving measures and a revenue stream is created through a ?pay as you save‘ scheme whereby the cost of the measures is recovered through energy bills.
A surcharge on the regional rate serving as a revenue stream for a bond issue via a non-government body – such a cast iron revenue stream would secure the lowest interest rates.
A more substantial restructuring of the rating system to incentivise investment in low carbon technologies and energy efficiency, while penalising those properties that continue to waste energy.
Housing equity unlock: a charge on a property serves as security for the capital investment in energy saving measures and is paid for through a ?pay as you save‘ scheme.
European Investment Bank loans made available through the local banks; a mutualised body; and/or other agencies.
Salix Finance: the use of an enhanced Carbon Trust Salix fund to finance investment in the public sector.
Local authority bonds: local councils could issue bonds securitised against the rates base to carry out energy efficiency measures on their own buildings
Northern Ireland Green Energy Bond issued by government if Treasury rules were relaxed, or by local banks or a mutual institution to attract savings from individuals and pension funds.