Talk to people working in the environmental sector about the Carbon Trust and some will splutter with indignation.
“They are masterful at producing lots of PowerPoint [presentations], but was that ever a good use of public money?” asks one. Even more moderate critics raise their eyebrows at the amount of public money the trust has spent on TV advertising.
Try to get anyone on the record and it is a different story, as the trust wields considerable power in the environmental markets. “Give me an example and I’ll happily comment on it,” says the trust’s chief executive, Tom Delay.
It is no surprise the trust has its critics. Set up in 2001 to use funds raised from green taxes to help businesses go green, it didn’t classify as a quango, as the board was not appointed by the government, but was a private not-for-profit body with substantial government funding.
Over 10 years, the trust spent – or “invested” as Delay would rather – more than £700m of public money, helping companies become energy efficient, nurturing cleantech startups, and raising awareness with those TV ads.
Environmentalists are also wary of its sleek corporate image. Delay himself had come from a career at Shell.
With flash offices in the heart of the City and sharp-suited management consultants on the payroll, the trust always seemed a touch too close to business to hold it properly to account.
For more on this story, visit: Carbon Trust chief: ‘We are on the side of the good guys.’ Not everyone agrees | Environment | The Guardian.