UK in danger of falling behind in global green race

The Government must commit to a low carbon transition or risk competitor nations leap frogging the UK's lead in global green markets, new research shows.

Analysis by think tank Green Alliance concludes that the UK’s global competitors now have more ambitious development programmes for growing low carbon business.

It says that although the UK remains in a strong position, lack of political leadership and focused delivery threatens to undermine UK competitiveness in lucrative and fast growing international markets.

The report, the global green race: a business review of UK competitiveness in low carbon markets, found that the UK has performed well so far in global green markets, but highlighted higher levels of ambition and a stronger focus on delivery among important competitor nations.

It highlights that Germany, China and South Korea have all gone further than the UK in identifying priority low carbon technologies for development, and matching this with long term funding support.

Businesses have reported that open political conflict on climate and resource issues is deterring investment in low carbon markets and that UK innovation funding is too short term, while supply chain support is weak.

Commenting on the report director of Green Alliance, Matthew Spencer, said: “Cleantech businesses contribute billions to the UK bottom line, but they feel like they are being used as a political football in a broader battle for the soul of the Conservative Party. Our competitors are raising their game, and Conservative ministers will have to be less equivocal in their commitment to low carbon if they want the UK to remain a leader in global green markets.”

Renewable energy company, RES UK & Ireland, along with 11 other businesses, including international engineering companies, energy majors, logistics and cleantech companies, provided input to the report.

RES UK & Ireland chief operating officer, Gordon MacDougall, said: “The UK has a great chance to be at the forefront of the global low carbon transition, but only if the domestic policy environment is right. The Prime Minister is right to say that the UK is in a global economic race and for this reason government cannot afford to ignore the opportunity presented by our green businesses.

“In recent months the government’s support for the UK’s thriving low carbon economy has been muted while its support for fracking, the benefits of which, in the UK context, are unproven and the costs completely unknown, has been unequivocal. This is a balance that must be redressed,” he added.

Leigh Stringer

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