Government publishes Clean Growth Strategy

An ambitious strategy setting out how the UK is leading the world in cutting carbon emissions to combat climate change while driving economic growth, has been published today by Business and Energy secretary Greg Clark.

Publication of The Clean Growth Strategy: Leading the way to a low carbon future is a legal requirement under the Climate Change Act and builds on the UK’s progress to date. Carbon emissions in the UK have fallen and national income risen faster and further than any other nation in the G7. Since 1990, emissions are down by 42% while the economy has grown by 67%.

The government’s strategy sets out how the whole country can benefit from low carbon economic opportunities through the creation of new technologies and new businesses, which creates jobs and prosperity across the UK, while at the same time meeting ambitious national targets to tackle climate change.

Business and Energy secretary Greg Clark said: “This government has put clean growth at the heart of its Industrial Strategy to increase productivity, boost people’s earning power and ensure Britain continues to lead the world in efforts to tackle climate change.

“For the first time in a generation, the British government is leading the way on taking decisions on new nuclear, rolling out smart meters and investing in low carbon innovation. The world is moving from being powered by polluting fossil fuels to clean energy. It’s as big a change as the move from the age of steam to the age of oil and Britain is showing the way.”

Climate Change and Industry minister Claire Perry said: “The impact of the Paris agreement and the unstoppable global shift towards low carbon technologies gives the UK an unparalleled opportunity. By focusing on Clean Growth, we can cut the cost of energy, drive economic prosperity, create high value jobs and improve our quality of life.

“For the first time the government is setting out in today’s strategy how over £2.5bn will be invested to support low carbon innovation from 2015 to 2021, as part of the largest increase in public spending on science, research and innovation in over three decades. This funding covers programmes delivering low carbon energy, transport, agriculture and waste. That £2.5bn of existing government spending includes up to £505m from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Energy Innovation Programme, which aims to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative clean energy technologies and processes.”

There are already more than 430,000 jobs in low carbon businesses and their supply chains. The government says that its strategy will provide further opportunities across the country for more jobs, higher earning power and increased productivity. The low carbon economy could grow 11% per year between 2015 and 2030, faster than the rest of the economy, it claims.

Commenting on the strategy, Environmental Industries Commission executive director Matthew Farrow said: “Publishing today’s strategy is a legal requirement under the Climate Change Act but the level of ambition it contains and the prime minister’s backing is very welcome.  Britain has a very strong and innovative environmental sector which with the right investment framework can deliver sustainable growth, jobs and exports for the UK.  The strategy’s scope, including strong support for low emission vehicles, is important and the commitment to publish a waste and resources strategy will give some comfort to a sector that has suffered from a lack of policy direction.

“The strong commitment to improving business energy efficiency is also welcome, though the detail will not appear until consultations next year. Given energy efficiency policy has been in flux ever since the political support for the CRC scheme began to ebb nearly 10 years ago it is important that ministers work with industry bodies such as EIC to develop concrete proposals quickly.  Beefing up the Energy Savings Opportunities Scheme would be a good place to start.”

Frazer Mackay, managing director of energy and industry at WSP, said: “The new Clean Growth Strategy was worth the wait. Meeting our carbon targets is a public and private commitment and the strategy provides a broad, over-arching plan of how it is going to meet them and the role the private sector has to play. There’s nothing to stop business working towards carbon neutrality, and we have set 2025 as our own deadline.

 “It is reassuring to see government confirm that innovation, sustainability and prosperity go hand in hand but it remains unclear exactly how it intends to get us to an all-electric future. With Brexit just around the corner, greater stability and clarity over clean energy auctions after 2020 is an essential first step for investors and developers.  However, we welcome today’s recognition of the potential of technology, from battery storage to hydrogen and electric vehicles, and look forward to continue helping drive this agenda forward.

“In certain areas, particularly energy efficiency and heating, government’s ambition still lags behind. Recent announcements on banning petrol and diesel vehicles have provided momentum, but decarbonisation efforts still disproportionately focus on generation and transport over buildings, even though in places like London buildings contribute nearly 40% of NOx emissions. Our recent research showed replacing gas boilers with heat pumps in buildings can cut business costs, so this was a missed opportunity for a quick win on air quality and clean growth.”

Shaun Spiers, executive director of Green Alliance, said: “It is great to see this long-awaited strategy setting out the government’s ambitions for clean growth. It is certainly a welcome move in the right direction. The test now will be to embed the strategy across government and encourage investment in clean growth by giving businesses the certainty they need.

“Going green is not only good for the environment: it is crucial for the future of the UK economy. By taking decisive action to reduce carbon emissions at home we can take advantage of the growing global market for low carbon technology and expertise. This strategy is the opportunity to reboot the agenda on energy efficiency, clean vehicles and the efficient use of resources in the UK.”

Click here to download The Clean Growth Strategy.

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