Aldersgate Group manifesto calls on next Government to capitalise on green economy

Green business alliance the Aldersgate Group has today (16 May) launched a General Election manifesto report which makes the case for the next Government to prioritise a more ambitious low-carbon and environmental policy.

The 22-page manifesto includes calls for the prompt publication of both a detailed Clean Growth Plan and 25-Year Plan for the Environment, and a strong Industrial Strategy which enables the green business community to flourish. The Group has also proposed a new finance strategy that attracts greater levels of private sector investment in energy efficiency, low-carbon transport and infrastructure.

A constructive relationship with the EU is necessary to ensure these policies are delivered cost-effectively, the manifesto insists. Specifically, it calls for continued membership of the Internal Energy Market and deepened collaboration with the UK’s continental neighbours on the design of environmental regulations such as future vehicle emission standards.

“As the new Government negotiates the UK’s departure from the EU, it should not neglect the importance of putting forward an ambitious low-carbon and environmental policy,” Aldersgate Group executive director Nick Molho said.

“The UK has significant strengths across the low-carbon economy, a market which is already worth over $5.5tn globally and is rapidly growing following the Paris Agreement on climate change. The next five years are a unique opportunity to consolidate the UK’s competitive advantages and put its businesses in the best possible position to tap into growing export opportunities.”

Significant opportunities

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) estimates that the UK’s low-carbon and renewable energy economy employed some 432,000 people in 2015 and delivered a turnover of more than £77bn. The Aldersgate Group contends that, with the right support, UK businesses are well placed to tap into “significant and fast growing” low-carbon export opportunities.

In order to deliver investment stability, the upcoming Clean Growth Plan should introduce subsidy-free Contracts For Difference (CfD) for new projects using mature technologies such as onshore wind and solar PV, according to the manifesto, and provide continued support for flexible solutions, such as energy storage and demand response.

The Aldersgate Group has previously suggested the UK economy could swell by nearly £80bn if the country adopts resource-efficient business models by 2030. In today’s manifesto, the Group reiterated this claim, calling for a cross-departmental approach to drive better management of resources across the economy. The proposed Industrial Strategy is a perfect opportunity to support continued growth and job created in the resource efficiency supply chain, the manifesto said.

Commenting on the manifesto, Nigel Stansfield, the president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa of carpet tile manufacturer Interface – an Aldersgate Group member – said: “While companies like ours continue to lead the way, governments at both a national and EU level can accelerate moves to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels by encouraging transparency around the environmental impact of products, and introducing measures to change buyer behaviour in favour of those that are low-carbon.”

Green buildings

With buildings responsible for nearly 18% of all emissions, the Aldersgate Group insists that tackling energy efficiency in buildings in the short-term is vital if the UK is to meet its carbon budgets.

The Government should deliver “meaningful ambition” for energy consumption and emissions reductions in existing buildings using Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES), the manifesto report claims, and introduce a new nearly zero-carbon target for all new buildings by 2020.

Julia Barrett, the re-thinking director for construction firm and fellow Aldersgate Group member Willmott Dixon, added: “The construction industry is willing to invest in research, innovation and skills development to find the solutions for an affordable low-carbon future.

“But, we need to be confident that the Government is taking a long-term policy approach that will support spending on resource efficiency, energy efficiency and low carbon infrastructure.”

George Ogleby

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