News

Business understands the green economy, says CBI boss John Cridland

John Cridland, CBI

Back the winning sectors and make money out of doing the right thing, delegates at EIC conference told.

While politicians may still struggle to embrace the environment as a driver for the economy, business now gets it, according to CBI director general John Cridland.

Addressing delegates at this week’s Environmental Industries Commission annual conference Cridland said that business now understood and fully embraced the green economy 

“I don’t talk about environmental industries or green jobs because we need all industries to be environmental and all jobs to be green." John Cridland, CBI

Green groups and activists not politicians first recognised the importance of the environment,” he said.

“But business now gets it and has stuck with it. It is about making money out of doing the right things,” he added. “We do have the sense that government and business can work together for the public good.”

Cridland said that although political uncertainty was still dampening investment, there were a number of key areas across the environmental sector that cold benefit from more government support

“The UK cannot be good at everything – we need to choose a small number of sectors to back,” he said,

“My view is that we must pick the sectors that we are good at and back them – not the winning companies but the sectors where we stand a chance to win and where the environment is a cross cutting issue.”

“I don’t talk about environmental industries or green jobs because we need all industries to be environmental and all jobs to be green.

Cridland highlighted the energy sector as a critical area in need of reform and warned of the “holy trinity” of issues - decarbinisation, security of supply and cost – that still threatened the delivery of new energy infrastructure which, he said, were “hard but not impossible” to reconcile.

“How to make energy efficiency sexy is my challenge for 2015,” Julia Groves, ceo Tillion Fund.

"We must focus on the low hanging fruit,” said Cridland. “The most obvious thing for us all to do is to focus on a major national drive for energy efficiency.”

Julia Groves, chief executive of the Trillion Fund agreed that energy efficiency was a key way to drive forward the green economy and told delegates that the key to engaging the public was to appeal to the their wallets.

“How to make energy efficiency sexy is my challenge for 2015,” said Groves. “We can find a way to encourage people to take their money out of bank accounts and invest to move towards a green economy.”

We can all get behind this,” she said. “Infrastructure is the biggest game in town.”

However, Desire Lopez of polling expert TNS-BMRB warned that environmental issues remained very low on the public’s agenda with only 3% of the public rating them as a an important issue right now.

“The environment doesn’t even make the top ten issues,” said Lopez pointing out that other issues such as immigration and the economy dominsated.

But she added that there was perhaps a problem in the language used to explain the issues. “There is a disconnect as it is clear that there are many environmental issues that do actually impact the public.”

More reports and video from the EIC annual conference will follow on the Environment Hub

EIC Conference

Event sponsors