Businesses need policy consistency to drive green economy

Businesses can be "green and grow", but need consistent and clear messages from government - if they are to boost the UK's transition to a low carbon economy, according to leading environmental experts.

Discussing what’s driving the corporate agenda as part of SustainabilityLive! event at the NEC in Birmingham yesterday (May 22) delegates heard from CBI head of energy and climate change Dr Matthew Brown, who said that the green economy can provide the UK with valuable growth opportunities, which is needed to “rebalance the economy”.

However, he warned that “green and growth don’t automatically go together”, and called for the UK to develop “smarter” and more stable policy to blend the two together. Without this, he added green growth is at risk of becoming a “damp squib”, adding that recent inconsistent messages from government had created investor uncertainty.

Aldersgate Group executive director Andrew Raingold echoed this view, and said that he believed the green economy could provide real opportunity for business.

Pushing the case for mandatory carbon and sustainability reporting, Mr Raingold added that “clean and accountable” regulations are needed as “clearly the voluntary approach has run its course”.

However, he said that businesses need to know how to report on sustainability and that government must provide a clearer message on how they need to do this. After all, he added “what gets measured gets managed”.

Environmental planning consultancy Temple Group principal carbon management and sustainability consultant Carol Somper said that she believed that sustainability is about thinking long-term in business.

She said: “We need to think about good returns for stakeholders and long-term profitability”, adding that businesses need to “get more resilient” and need transparency rebuild investor confidence.

Temple, in partnership with edie, is carrying out a major survey to ascertain corporate attitudes to sustainability and find out what’s driving change. To take the survey during SustainabilityLive! and be in with the chance to win a brand new iPad visit the edie stand on T51.

Carys Matthews

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