The controversy over whether the ‘green’ economy is a good or a bad thing for UK PLC has been given a positive boost by one of the country’s most influential groups. A new report from the CBI claims that green policies are a “vital driver” of economic growth, and that a straight choice between going green or boosting economic growth is a false one. In a rare moment of confidence in what has been an otherwise gloomy month for fiscal predictions, the CBI say that the UK could become a leader in low-carbon products and services, and that cutting edge research and development in the UK could also have long-term implications for global green economics for years to come.
The study found that maximising the UK’s green growth potential could result in a £20bn boost to GDP by 2014-15, and an improvement in trade balance of almost £0.8bn – especially good news just after the country has received a recovery downgrade from the EMF. Green business now accounts for nearly 8% of the country’s GDP, and currently supports nearly a million jobs. Many of those jobs are in green energy production, and in a market where traditional fossil fuels are struggling, the ‘green’ options such as bio-energy are holding their own. “We applaud the CBI’s positive statement on going green,” comments EDW Service Delivery Director, Graham Paul. “And they are also absolutely right in saying that the green economy isn’t a case of either/or – we have to realise that in the future, green energy and products are going to form a fundamental part of our economy and growth. Without the ‘green’ pound, not only will we struggle environmentally, but financially as well,” he adds.
Going green globally
The CBI’s report also hints that where the UK leads, others will follow, and that could have major implications for the future of wholesale energy markets in particular. The report gave several specific recommendations that will impact the energy sector, including:
• Ensuring the ambition of the fourth carbon budget was maintained and matched with consistent messaging from the government
• Giving market signals that have stability and longevity
• Collaborating with business to ensure the right mix of incentives and regulation
• Reducing complexity in the existing low-carbon landscape, including immediate action on the Carbon Reduction Commitment.
“Put all the right pieces in place, and you could see a substantial increase in business positivity,” comments Graham. “The energy industry has been committed to the production of greener fuel for years, and it has been our research and development into the use of green energy that has really driven the market forward. What the CBI is saying in their report, and what we have been saying for years, is that the government has to stop using the green economy as some sort of stick to beat British industry with, and promote its positive role in building a stronger future economy,” he adds.
And it seems that consumer demand is responding to the green economy too. “Not only is the green economy creating new opportunities both in the energy sector and elsewhere, but the public’s response to going green is becoming more positive,” says Graham Paul. “The energy sector has been positioned to take advantage of this for some time, and now it’s time for the rest of industry – and the government – to do the same. As renewables become cheaper and more plentiful, now is an ideal time to invest in long-term green energy projects, both in the private and the public sectors. It’s nice to know that for once, the energy providers aren’t the ‘bad guys’ and have been right all along about the importance of green energy and the green economy!” he concludes.
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