Greens propose bank to fund clean, renewable technology

Increased oil mining royalty rates would be used to fund a ''green bank'' being proposed by the Green Party in a pre-Budget release yesterday. The bank would cost $120 million over the next three years.

It would be government owned and would partner with the private sector to fund new projects ranging from renewable energy and biofuel production to new clean technologies.

Greens co-leader Russel Norman said like Kiwibank, the ''Green Investment Bank'' would combine the best of the public and private sectors to accelerate New Zealand's transition to a smarter green economy.

''The green bank will act as a catalyst for investment in the green economy. It will be a central instrument for transitioning investment away from polluting industries and into the clean and profitable investments of tomorrow,'' he said.

New Zealand Taxpayers' Union executive director Jordan Williams was disappointed the Greens had announced plans to risk $120 million on the proposed investment bank.

''Despite successive failures, why do politicians think they can manage a bank better than experts?'' Mr Williams asked.

The Green Party claimed its bank would be ''for profit'' but if green technologies were so profitable, commercial banks would already be in on the action, he said.

The Greens had a history of incorrectly forecasting high returns in green technologies.

''In 2001, the party trumpeted its superannuation fund investing in a wind farm company. Since then, the shares have lost 96% in their value.

''Does Russel Norman really think bureaucrats will make profitable decisions with $120 million of taxpayer money when the Greens can't even get it right with their own?''

Most people supported developing green energy but should not be forced to risk nearly $70 per household taken through the tax system, Mr Williams said.

Dr Norman said the clean technology sector was taking off internationally but National had chosen to invest in the old economies, such as mining and oil drilling, which were neither jobs-rich nor sustainable.

New investment opportunities lay in renewable energy plants, solar panel installations, energy efficiency retrofits, the development and production of biofuels and new clean technologies.

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