DTI to help companies take advantage of the ‘Green Industrial Revolution’

In a keynote speech to the Greenpeace annual business conference, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Stephen Byers, announced a package of new initiatives to help British business take advantage of the ‘Green Industrial Revolution’.

According to Byers, the global market for environmental goods and services is estimated at $335 billion (£230 billion), which is comparable with the pharmaceuticals market, and is expected to rise to $640 billion (£440 billion) by 2010. The organic food sector alone has grown by 40% in the last few years, said Byers.

“The development of a global knowledge based economy calls for new approaches and new attitudes from business,” said Byers. “With consumers becoming more environmentally aware, companies need address green issues themselves to meet their demands.”

The Secretary of State announced a series of new DTI measures intended to help businesses:

  • a consultation on renewable energy which reaffirms the Government’s target to produce five percent of the UK’s electricity supplies from renewables by 2003 and 10% by 2010;
  • the Sustainable Development Strategy, which shows how the DTI intends to fully integrate environmental protection and improved resource productivity into its core mission of improving UD competitiveness;
  • the Small Business Service and network of Business Links is expected to put increased emphasis on helping companies to exploit new environmental technologies and operate in a more environmentally friendly way.

“Business can also benefit from the cost savings introducing environmentally friendly practices can bring,” said Byers. “Companies in all parts of the UK are already reaping the rewards of employing green technology, and our aim is to ensure that many more are able to do so in the future.” Though, despite this, competition is intense, said Byers, requiring constant innovation to raise productivity to meet national and international environmental targets, and consumer demand.

The Government has an important role in helping businesses by supporting innovation, nurturing science and technology and small businesses, and developing e-commerce, trade services and regional support, said Byers. In particular, the Secretary of State is keen to look at ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, such as through the use of renewables.

“We are proposing to focus support on the renewables that need it most,” said Byers. “That is why we intend to exclude large-scale hydro and energy from waste incineration from the [Renewable] Obligation. We are also proposing capital grants to help early offshore wind an energy crops projects compete in this market.”

Welcoming the Secretary of State’s comments, Stephen Tindale, Chief Policy Advisor for Greenpeace, said “DTI and Greenpeace have been traditional adversaries, and there is still much about the Department that we criticise. But under his stewardship, there are the first signs of a change in the nature of DTI. No longer do we hear an instinctive, knee-jerk rejection of environmentalism as bad for business. Short term defence of business interests is beginning to be replaced by longer term defence of the public interest. So our first message to Stephen today is simply this: keep up the good work – there’s a long way still to go.”

However, Tindale was especially critical of the Government’s lack of money for renewable sources of energy, and, in particular, the lack of a system for awarding planning permission for offshore wind farms.

According to the DTI, the success of the Sustainable Development Strategy will be measured through factors such as greenhouse gas emission reductions, and levels of waste disposal relative to GDP. Copies are available from the DTI, telephone 020 4215 5000.

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