Budget must deliver ‘credible’ green growth strategy

Business leaders have warned the chancellor George Osborne it is "critical" the budget drives the UK's transition towards a low carbon and resource efficient economy.

The letter, sent today (March 19) and signed by well-known brands such as M&S, IKEA, Phillips, BT, Microsoft and PepsiCo, leads with a call for the Government to implement a “credible” green growth strategy that accelerates investment in renewables and energy efficiency.

This, it argues will “not only help to safeguard the environment but, critically, lead the way to a more competitive and resilient economy”, adding that resource scarcity and price volatility is having a damaging effect on the economy.

Additionally, the group adds that “environmental policies do not have to be a burden on business”.

The group also criticises comments made by the chancellor during last year’s Autumn Statement that if businesses are burdened with “endless social and environmental goals – however worthy in their own right – then not only will we not achieve those goals, but the businesses will fail, jobs will be lost, and our country will be poorer”.

Rather, signatories, which also includes Aviva, Cisco, Diageo, National Grid, RWE, Npower, Siemens, Worchester Bosch, Reed Elsevier, Anglian Water and Grant Thornton among others, say this is “quite the reverse”, arguing that “well designed, smart regulation can reduce business costs and drive innovation and growth”.

Leading the group, Aldersgate Group chairman Peter Young, said: “The chancellor’s view that businesses and jobs will be lost in the pursuit of green goals seems to signal a return to a 1980s view of the environmental performance of the economy as a net cost, and to row back from previous statements made by this government.

“On the contrary, as this letter makes clear, good environmental performance is now a prerequisite for economic competitiveness and growth in a resource constrained world.”

As a result, the signatories have called on the Government to deliver on its pledge to be the “greenest government ever” by putting “credible, consistent and bankable polices” in place to “accelerate the transition to a sustainable economy”.

It argues that “strong and consistent” communication will be key to the success of green growth and that government must develop a decision making framework which integrates environmental, social and economic goals.

Mr Young further warns that the UK is “falling behind in the green economy race”, adding that a “comprehensive growth strategy, coupled with more consistent messages across Whitehall, would drive investment and help build more secure jobs”.

Carys Matthews

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