Today (16 May) the Aldersgate Group publishes a manifesto report, “A healthy environment, a competitive economy”, setting out policy priorities for the new government.
The report highlights the growing importance of the low carbon economy to the UK’s competitiveness and urges the new government to put ambitious environmental and climate policy at the heart of its programme as the UK leaves the EU.
The group says the UK faces several environmental challenges from the growing impacts of climate change on its infrastructure to the degradation of key parts of its environment, such as soil.
Tackling these environmental challenges effectively will provide “economic as well as environmental benefits for the UK”.
The Aldersgate Group manifesto therefore calls for the next government to:
- Publish a detailed Clean Growth Plan without delay to attract greater levels of affordable private sector investment in energy efficient buildings, low carbon energy and transport infrastructure. This will help deliver the UK’s emissions reduction commitments under the fifth carbon budget in a timely and affordable way and grow supply chains;
- Put in place a cross-departmental resource efficiency policy to drive better management of resources across the economy and encourage greater use of secondary materials;
- Improve the state of the UK’s natural environment via the prompt publication of a 25 Year Plan for the Environment;
- Develop an industrial strategy to build on the UK’s strengths in the low carbon and resource efficient sectors and support continued growth and job creation in its supply chains;
- Develop a new finance strategy to increase the levels of private investment flowing into the UK’s modern, green infrastructure, new technologies and innovative business models.
Policies such as the Climate Change Act have already helped to cut carbon emissions, reduce household energy bills in real terms, reduce the cost of new technologies like offshore wind and deliver growth in new industries, the group says.
The Office of National Statistics estimates that the UK’s low carbon and renewable energy economy employed some 432,000 people in 2015 and delivered a turnover of more than £77bn. Critically, a lot of this growth is taking place in parts of the country that need it the most such as the North of England and the Solent area.
“The next five years are a unique opportunity to consolidate the UK’s competitive advantages and put its businesses in the best possible position to tap into growing export opportunities.”
UK businesses have strengths in numerous areas of the low carbon economy such as the manufacturing of ultra-low emission cars and wind turbines, expertise in energy efficiency services and engineering, leading cutting edge pilots in resource efficiency and natural capital and the provision of legal and financial services for clean energy projects worldwide.
It says going forward, the export potential for UK businesses is significant, with estimates that the low carbon economy could grow from 2% of the UK’s GDP today to 8% by 2030.
Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “As the new government negotiates the UK’s departure from the EU, it should not neglect the importance of putting forward an ambitious low carbon and environmental policy.
“The UK has significant strengths across the low carbon economy, a market which is already worth over $5.5tn globally and is rapidly growing following the Paris Agreement on climate change. The next five years are a unique opportunity to consolidate the UK’s competitive advantages and put its businesses in the best possible position to tap into growing export opportunities.”