CBI: Government green policy is stifling investment

The Government's 'roll-back of renewables' and 'mixed messages' on energy efficiency is threatening investment in the UK, the leader of the CBI has claimed today.

Speaking at a business conference on climate change on Tuesday, CBI director general John Cridland warned that Britain’s reputation as attractive market for low carbon investment was ‘hard won but easily lost’.

He said: “Today’s investors are more uncertain about the UK’s low-carbon future.

“From the roll-back of renewables to the mixed messages on energy efficiency, these changes send a worrying signal about the UK as a place for low-carbon investment. 

“Moreover, this seemingly weakened commitment risks impacting our standing on the global stage, at the exact moment we need to stand up and be counted.”

Cridland’s comments come on the heels of an EY report which dropped the UK from the top-10 most attractive markets for renewables investment for the first time.

Costs and oppportunities

Cridland went on to make the business case for action against climate change, pointing out that ‘value at risk’ costs could exceed £4.5trn by the end of the century.

“But besides the costs of inaction, the benefits of seizing the opportunity and growing the green economy are also clear,” he said.

“We know the UK’s green economy has sales of over £120bn a year. And whilst people might describe China’ or India as emerging markets’ the green economy is a high-growth emerging market in its own right.

“Between 2010 and 2013, the green economy grew at more than 7% a year, compared to less than 2% a year over the same period for the UK economy as a whole.

“Today, 164 countries have renewable energy targets. That’s 164 potential markets worldwide for the UK’s renewable industry – for example.”


Cridland’s message was echoed by other speakers at the event, including former US vice-president Al Gore, who called on the UK Government to take a ‘legacy of leadership to Paris’.

Cridland himself said the CBI wants the UK to come back from the Paris conference with ‘three wins’.

Firstly, a long-term foundation for reducing emissions, with an agreement on how to ratchet up ambition on a regular basis. Secondly, a commitment to driving forward carbon pricing around the world, and thirdly a solution for making finance and innovation more accessible.

The speech is likely to make ministers take note, given the CBI’s position as the biggest trade organisation in UK business and its stated goal to” promote the conditions in which businesses of all sizes and sectors in the UK can compete and prosper”.

Industry backing

Clean energy trade body Scottish Renewables welcomed the CBI stance, and called for the Government to deliver policy certainty, especially for mature technologies.

Scottish Renewables chief executive Niall Stuart said: “With wind and solar now significantly cheaper than new nuclear power, and with costs set to fall further if we can give longer term certainty, it makes no sense to leave them as the only form of electricity generation without any form of public support.”

John Cridland Climate Conference Speech

Brad Allen

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