Scotland’s new public bank must be an “ethical lender”, according to environmental campaigners.
Friends of the Earth (FoE) Scotland said the Scottish National Investment Bank – which will make investments in companies and infrastructure projects – should be set up with minimum ethical standards so that it does not invest in “damaging” projects such as fossil fuels.
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 at Holyrood on Tuesday.
Last year, the Scottish Government declared a climate emergency and pledged to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030, as well as committing to Scotland reaching net-zero by 2045.
FoE Scotland campaigner Ric Lander said ruling out investments in fossil fuels would send a “clear signal” of Scotland’s commitment to transitioning beyond fossil fuels.
“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,” he said.
“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, it is only right that standards should be publicly available and open to scrutiny.”
Mr Lander added: “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.”