New lobby urges Government to wake up to green business opportunities

A lobby group launched this week has handed Government a report which argues that the environment vs competitiveness debate is a red herring and sustainable business is vital for economic growth.

Traditional Whitehall wisdom is that you must strike a balance between environmental and economic concerns and that the two are likely to clash.

But according to the newly-formed Aldersgate Group (see related news in brief), this thinking is out of date.

The group, whose list of members includes heavyweights such as the Environmental Industries Commission, Environment Agency, SEPA, Institute for European Environmental Policy, Green Alliance, New Economics Foundation, United Utilities, English Nature, SITA UK, BT, Enviros, Atkins, James Brathwaite (SEEDA), IPPR and the RSPB, argues that high environmental standards are not only in the public interest but also in the interest of business.

"The Aldersgate Group has been formed to ensure that the British Government, and particularly Downing Street, wakes up to the fact that high environmental standards will be a major part of future economic growth and international competitiveness," said Adrian Wilkes, chairman of the group.

"It must avoid being misled by the efforts of the growing, and politically powerful, de-regulation lobby to undermine environmental protection, particularly in the three current major policy reviews."

The lobby has already published its first report, commissioned from the Institute of European Environmental Policy, which argues that in a world of rising energy costs and increasingly scarce raw materials, the UK's international economic standing will depend on maximising resource efficiency as well as boosting labour productivity.

Rapid economic growth and technological change has brought the world's economy up against environmental constraints, it says.

In addition, there has been a substantial worldwide growth in demand for environmental protection technologies. In five years, it says, the global environmental market could be as big as the pharmaceuticals or aerospace sectors, and worth almost US$700 billion.

The full report, Green Foundations: Better regulation and a healthy environment for growth and jobs, can be viewed by following the link.

Sam Bond



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