Business leaders call for imminent Industrial Strategy to engage low-carbon firms

Ahead of Prime Minister Theresa May's widely-expected unveiling of the UK's Industrial Strategy blueprint this week, a coalition of European business leaders including Tesco, Kingfisher and Unilever has called upon the Government to work with innovative companies to deliver a zero-carbon economy.

The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) has today (20 January) released a paper to inform the advancement of an Industrial Strategy “fit for the 21st century”.

According to the report, the Government should respond to four trends: growing demand for digital products; the move to a sharing economy; the increase in re-use and recycling; and changes to the UK’s energy supply.

“The world is changing – new technologies and innovations have the potential to redefine business and industry as we know it,” CLG director Jill Duggan said. “With Brexit, the UK has the chance to reset policy and not be left behind. It is essential that our new industrial strategy is clear, ambitious and targeted enough to deliver a modern, prosperous, inclusive, and zero-carbon economy.”

Low-carbon transition

The CLG specifically calls for the Industrial Strategy – the outline of which is expected to be released on Monday – to support the UK’s low-carbon transition through job creation, improved production, an innovation boost and regional growth. Another recommendation calls for greater incentives for businesses to invest in long-term productive developments, through fiscal and corporate governance regimes that emphasise long-term results.

Stronger links between Government, industry and other key stakeholders would help foster the growth of different sectors, the CLG states. The Energy Systems Catapult is cited as a specific tool that can demonstrate best practice and provide a focus on innovation of new business models which nurture low-carbon technologies and closed-loop systems.

Duggan added: “The Government is about to start a major consultation to define its new industrial strategy. The green paper due out next week should set the path for a strategy which has a clear rationale and stated aim, influence on policies across Government, and the political backing to deliver for the long term.” 

Watertight strategy?

Much of the private and public sector are waiting to see if and how BEIS is able to integrate low-carbon prosperity into business models as part of next week’s Industrial Strategy proposals. Electric vehicles (EVs) are expected to form a large part of the strategy’s aim to modernise infrastructure and systems, following comments made by Climate Minister Nick Hurd last week.

Offshore wind, demand response and energy storage are also likely to feature in the new strategy. Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Secretary Greg Clark has frequently suggested that these technologies could help support the creation of a smarter, flexible energy system.

The Government will engage in a lengthy period of consultation following publication to gauge support levels for its proposals.

George Ogleby

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