UK’s green economy continues to grow through low-carbon investment

The UK is successfully building the green economy by creating long term market incentives for green goods and services and its ambitious environmental targets, according to a new report by think tank Green Alliance.

The report compiles official Government figures to review the UK’s green economy and suggests that the private sector and low-carbon industries have helped the sector grow consistently since the financial crisis in 2008.

Green Alliance claimed that over a third of the UK’s economic growth in 2011-2012 is likely to have come from green business, while the green economy was worth £122bn in 2011.

Low-carbon and environmental jobs reached 939,600 in 2010-2011, almost doubling the half a million employees of the automotive industry and close to the 1,061,900 employees of the financial sector.

Turning to investment, the report says that spending on infrastructure projects that have started or are planned for 2012-2013 has reached £23bn, which includes £14.5bn from private investment, £7bn from private/public investment and £1.4bn from public investment.

These figures soar above the £3.1bn investment planned for high carbon projects in 2012-2013, which includes £1.2bn from private investment and £1.9bn from public investment.

In contrast, a report released on Wednesday (August 28) by Ernst & Young’s suggests that the UK Government’s lack of clarity over renewables policies is continuing to disrupt investor confidence and the battle within the coalition government between a pro-gas stance, and the more pro-renewables view is undermining the rhetoric that the UK energy market is a great place to invest.

However, Green Alliance’s report also claims that the UK exported low carbon and environmental goods and services to 52 countries in 2010-2011, totalling £11.8bn. The report also cites the CBI who said that in 2014-2015 green business is expected to roughly halve the UK’s trade deficit.

Through this successful implementation of green business, the UK has become the green financing capital of the world with one third of all global asset finance investment in new energy deals between 2007 and 2012 receiving both legal and financial advice from the UK.

Green Alliance praised the success of the UK’s green economy, saying: “Our low carbon and environmental sector has shown that it’s not just for the good times, but that it has continued to grow steadily even whilst broader economic activity slows.

“It has given the private sector confidence to invest billions of pounds in these markets. In contrast, the UK’s high carbon infrastructure projects now have much lower leverage on private capital and are being propped up by greater proportions of public spending.

“The return on our investment in greening the economy is being felt across the country, with nearly a million people now employed in providing low carbon and environmental goods and services, outstripping employment in other sectors such as telecoms.

“Quietly and without fanfare, green business has become a UK success story, at home and abroad. We now export more green products and services to our competitors than we import from them, and we have become the green financing capital of the world”.

Leigh Stringer

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