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Wednesday, 2nd Dec 2020

Call for council to launch green savings bonds for climate action

A Green councillor has called for Bristol Council to launch locally issued investment bonds to fund climate action projects.

Redland Councillor Martin Fodor raised the issue at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 1 December. In a question to the meeting, Councillor Fodor said: “Other authorities have proven the ways green bonds, in the form of the model called Community Mutual Investments (CMIs) can successfully pull in sums in a few months like £1m per call from private and local savers. These have a low risk, being publicly backed bonds, but a modest and hopefully reliable return to all the savers. What commitment is there to initiate such opportunities for Bristol savers to help create carbon saving projects with council support?”

In response Cabinet member Kye Dudd said the Council was looking into the idea but was noncommittal and did not provide specific details, although he did suggest public bonds might be part of the eventual City Leap offer to fund community projects.

Community Municipal Investments (CMIs) are a way to fund local infrastructure projects through low risk, publically backed investment bonds that provide local savers with a modest but reliable return (e.g. 1.2% per year). Warrington Borough Council has used CMIs to raise £1 million to fund a new hybrid solar-storage farm, and West Berkshire Council raised £1 million to fund new rooftop solar power on council-owned buildings. Councillor Fodor has submitted motions on the issue to previous council meetings. 

Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Fodor said he was glad that the cabinet member had recognised the potential of CMIs but frustrated by the lack of a commitment to take the idea any further and put local savings into local projects in a city renowned for its strong social and ethical investment sector. He said:

“I was a bit disappointed by the response from the administration. Here’s a chance to use a tried and tested method that could channel a million pounds or more into renewable energy solutions within a few months, putting local savings into local projects. It’s worked in two other councils already this year and gives savers and others a low risk way of making practical projects possible.”

“Through City Leap the council has already spent millions of pounds chasing speculative bids from large companies and yet we still don’t have anything on the table – in the meantime why not get to work on our own green energy projects funded by local savers?”

Notes

 

On Community Municipal Investments

 

Community Municipal Investments are a low-risk funding model developed by Leeds University and Abundance Investments platform with UK Government and EU support. The research project had the support of four local authorities including Bristol City Council. More information is available here: https://issuers.abundanceinvestment.com/local-authorities

See motion submitted to recent Full Council meetings by Councillor Fodor here: Motion_Cllr_Fodor_CMI.docx.

 

Question from Cllr Martin Fodor

Item 13: City Leap Energy Partnership - procurement update and contract extension notification

 

The Climate Emergency Programme makes a commitment to decarbonisation and private investment in the city’s carbon neutral journey. Opportunities for the community to contribute have been mentioned but not pursued, except independently by the successful Bristol Energy Co-operative.

 

It is hoped that City Leap will eventually bring carbon savings to the city and a return to the investment being discussed today. It may also be shaped in a way that supports community energy initiatives.

 

Meanwhile other authorities have proven the ways green bonds, in the form of the model called Community Mutual Investments (CMIs) can successfully pull in sums every few months like £1m per call from private and local savers. These have a low risk, being publicly backed bonds, but a modest and hopefully reliable return to all the savers. [see Motions to council November 10th for details].

 

Bristol is the only one of 4 authorities cited in the development of CMIs not to have taken this forwards to date.

 

Q: What commitment is there to initiate such opportunities for Bristol savers to help create carbon saving projects with council support? 

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