Industrial Strategy: Green business reaction

The green business community has broadly praised the UK's newly-launched Industrial Strategy for recognising clean energy as a top priority for British industry.

Launched earlier today (27 November), the Industrial Strategy includes pledges to invest £400m in EV charging points and a further £100m to extend the plug-in car grant. The document also confirms £162m earmarked for low-carbon innovation and developing a bio-economy strategy.

The Strategy outlines the creation of sector deals – long-term partnerships between the Government and industry to boost industry productivity. The first sector deals focus on life sciences, construction, AI and the transport sector, with later deals expected for low-carbon technologies such as offshore wind. 

Members of the green community have expressed satisfaction that clean growth has been set out as one of the four ‘Grand Challenges’ in the Strategy. But some suggest it could go further to outline how, alongside the Clean Growth Strategy, the Strategy will help the UK to meet its Fifth Carbon Budget. 

Here is the full green business reaction to today’s Industrial Strategy launch. 

Industrial Strategy: Green business reaction

Jill Duggan, director, The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group:

“In the context of Brexit and diminished growth, this industrial strategy is timely and important, and hits some of the right targets. It is heartening to see that business feedback to the Green Paper has been taken on board. However, given the challenging national and global context, the strategy is not visionary or ambitious enough, and may not lead to the transformation that’s needed. 

“This should be seen as a starting point, rather than an end point, and Ministers across government will need to back it, deliver it, and improve on it if the UK and its businesses are to regain a leadership position in Europe and beyond.”

Matthew Farrow, executive director, EIC: 

“There is a lot to welcome in the Strategy, and most of the modern environmental touchstones are covered – the emphasis on innovation and clean growth, resources productivity and the circular economy, and the need to enhance natural capital are all given much-needed prominence.  These are aims that require long term effort and consistency to achieve, and will mean managing trade-offs that will not always be popular. 

“For example, the commitment to ‘align regulation to promote clean growth innovation’ will often mean a gradual and predictable toughening up of environmental standards, while the intention to use upgrade our infrastructure in ways that enhance our natural capital would, for example, mean making Sustainable Drainage systems a requirement for new developments – something Ministers have avoided doing in recent years.

Nick Molho, executive director, Aldersgate Group:

“The Industrial Strategy can have a transformative impact on the UK’s economy, driving low carbon innovation and the continued growth of jobs, skills and supply chains. It is positive to see that clean growth is now a core objective for the strategy and there is increased focus on energy and resource productivity, and strengthening the synergies between power, heat and transport systems.”

Angela Francis, chief economist, Green Alliance:

“The Industrial Strategy set out today aims to build an economy fit for the future. We’re pleased it recognises the need to take advantage of low carbon and resource efficient technologies to put UK businesses at the forefront of growing green markets. 

“Now, to drive investment, the government will have to use smart regulation, and its innovation and infrastructure spending to help industries as diverse as construction, finance, offshore wind and automotive compete in a low carbon world.” 

Hannah Martin, head of energy at Greenpeace UK:

“Ministers are right to recognise clean energy as a top priority for British industry and regional regeneration. It’s a sector that holds enormous potential for technological breakthroughs, job creation and boosting productivity. Britain’s economy needs a clean, flexible, and affordable energy system.

“And it needs to give people clean air by speeding up the end of diesel vehicles. A system led by offshore wind, smart technology, battery storage and electric vehicles will make that happen. This is where the Government should be focusing its efforts, rather than propping up astronomically expensive nuclear reactors like Hinkley.”

Jonathan Grant, sustainability director, PwC:

“It’s great to see the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) and clean energy growth front and centre of the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

“The UK is already making great strides compared to competitor countries with analysis by PwC showing we not only lead the G20 on clean growth but we’re decoupling emissions from economic growth significantly faster than its peers.

“The UK’s success comes down to policies such as the new Clean Growth Strategy, that create a positive investment climate for low carbon technology, the drive to tackle emissions from coal and the strength of our services sectors. The £162m earmarked for low carbon innovation and developing a bio-economy strategy will play a key role in maintaining this momentum.

Dr Colin Church, chief executive, CIWM:

“CIWM was looking for the Industrial Strategy White Paper to recognise the role improving resource productivity can play in helping the UK economy meet the challenges it faces. The ambition to double resource productivity by 2050, along with the existing commitment to zero avoidable waste by the same time, are clear signs the Government is starting to hear this message.

“Of course, in common with many others we would have liked to see more detail, but it is reassuring to see the commitment to cover this in more depth in the forthcoming 25-year environment plan and the resource and waste management strategy reinforced.

Matt Davies, managing principal, Ramboll Environ:

“Today’s launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy is to be welcomed. The commitments around investment in infrastructure, cities and skills are positive. Increasing the National Infrastructure Investment Fund, the specific commitments around electric vehicles and the proposed investment to aid with the linking of cities, all bring precision to this vision.

“Taken together with the proposals set out in the ambitious Clean Growth Strategy published last month and with last week’s budget, the dedicated investment in new ideas and new assets offers particularly exciting opportunities for the environmental services industry.”

Dorothy Thompson, chief executive, Drax Group:

“Cleaner economic growth is one of the greatest industrial opportunities of our time – with the UK’s clean economy predicted to grow at four times the rate of GDP.

“Reducing carbon in electricity generation is the fastest way to reduce emissions and ensure our economy is clean and strong. Electric cars, AI and automation all depend on a flexible, secure electricity system, which sustainable biomass and rapid response gas power stations can support.”

Charlotte Morton, chief executive, ADBA:

“We’re encouraged to hear that the government will increase incentives for investment in sustainable agriculture to help grow markets for innovative technologies and techniques. AD is clearly one such technology, so we look forward to further details on this support.

“The government is also right to highlight the benefits of moving towards a more circular economy in which resources are used more efficiently, and a dedicated Bioeconomy Strategy is an important step forward in this regard. As the only recycling option for organic wastes, AD can reduce emissions from waste and turn these wastes into the resources that the UK economy desperately needs.”

Louise Kingham, chief executive, Energy Institute:

“The strategy lays solid, economy-wide foundations and identifies the great challenges of our age. The energy sector has a defining role to play in making a success for the UK of clean growth and the mobility transformation in particular.

“It’s reassuring to see a focus on nurturing the people and innovations needed to take the UK economy beyond Brexit and beyond carbon.  I am encouraged as well to see that resource efficiency in business, industry and construction have such a prominent place, and that the government is committed to taking a whole systems approach to decarbonising our energy infrastructure.”

Dr Tim Rotheray, director, Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE):

“We welcome the Industrial Strategy’s focus on ensuring local energy users can implement new technology solutions to access new revenue streams and ‘prosper from the energy revolution’.       
“The Industrial Strategy clearly values the cost and carbon benefits of local, user-led systems, but there needs to be a stronger link with how businesses can use energy market revenues to improve their competitiveness and productivity.”

Alasdair Cameron, energy campaigner, Friends of the Earth:  

“Clean growth is rightly a central theme of this industrial strategy, but bold action is needed for the UK to really reap the benefits of building a low-carbon economy, and tackle both climate change and air pollution.

“Unfortunately government efforts to end the nation’s reliance on climate-wrecking fossil fuels are constantly undermined by its championing of fracking and financial assistance to the fossil fuel industry – as well as blocking cheap and efficient onshore wind and solar schemes.”

Jacob Hayler, executive director, ESA:

“ESA is pleased the Industrial Strategy White Paper recognises the importance of maximising the value we extract from our resources. Strengthening markets for secondary materials and encouraging design for recyclability are imperative if we are to move to a circular economy, and we welcome the Government’s commitment to this.

“The forthcoming resources and waste strategy must set out a clear long-term plan for how this can be achieved, and must put in place the right policy levers to ensure we have the right infrastructure to deliver greater resource productivity for the benefit of the UK economy and environment.”

David Palmer-Jones, chief executive, SUEZ recycling and recovery UK:  

“The Government’s commitment to move towards a regenerative circular economy is the right step towards making a more productive Britain. We now need to work with BEIS to promote well-functioning markets for secondary raw materials, the key foundation for the UK’s ability to create a low-carbon, resource efficient economy. More investment in domestic  recycling and materials recovery infrastructure is still needed to accelerate the regeneration of our natural capital.”

Dr. Nina Skorupska, chief executive, Renewable Energy Association:

“This Industrial Strategy recognises the technological revolution taking place across the energy and transport industries, and the value that specific sectors such as the bio-economy, energy efficient construction, and electric vehicles bring.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the government to develop the “Prospering from the Energy Revolution” programme and Bioeconomy Strategy, which must recognise the value of the full range of energy technologies that the UK is currently capable of deploying.”

George Ogleby

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