Green is good for growth
The TUC’s annual climate change conferences have always focussed on the green economy and our one-day conference on 23 October is no different. Except, perhaps, that the Business Secretary is a keynote speaker, with much to say recently about a strategic vision for our future industrial capabilities. Vince Cable has focused on supporting key technologies, a stronger steer from government to give investor confidence and strategic and long term thinking on supply chains. And except, too that this year, stuck in the double dip, our message that Green is good for growth has a new urgency.
We’re not alone in this belief. In the past few weeks, the CBI and the EEF have called for a long-term, green economic revival.
It’s all in the title. The CBI’s new report, The colour of growth: Maximising the potential of green business, made the interesting comment that “Some are questioning whether there is still room for ‘going green’. The business response is definitive and emphatic: green is not just complementary to growth, but a vital driver of it.” The statistics reveal the size of the opportunity. In trying economic times, the UK’s green business has continued to grow in real terms, carving out a £122 billion share of a global market worth £3.3 trillion and employing close to a million people. And in 2014/15, it is expected to roughly halve the UK’s trade deficit.
In August, the EEF argued (again, it’s in the tile) that Managing green and growth can be achieved in parallel, “but the UK must set itself on a road to affordable decarbonisation.” Striking the right balance between our climate change and industrial objectives was the key issues for the manufacturers’ organisation. Lack of access to finance was a major barrier to improvement.
Or as the Business Secretary commented recently, “My suggestion is that we recognise that RBS will not return to the market in its current shape and use its time as ward of state to carve out of it a British Business Bank.”
So the keynote speeches from the Business Secretary and the TUC’s Deputy General Secretary Frances O’Grady are accompanied by expert-led workshops on key strategic issues in green economic policy – finance, skills, green industrial policy and much more. And we close by returning to an old question for a new Parliamentary panel: What makes a good green government?
The independent Committee on Climate Change said recently, “the government must do more” if it is to have any hope of achieving vital carbon reduction targets. At the same time, with the UK economy facing a lost decade of stagnation, going green has potential to bring us huge economic benefits, securing the quality jobs and new investment that future economic success will depend upon.