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Anglian Water and M&S among firms backing low-carbon economy

The Aldersgate Group and partners with more than £280bn in collective turnover have launched a new roadmap for Britain, with a low carbon economy at its heart.

The new campaign, called ‘An Economy That Works’, is based on the findings of a new report.

It warns that GDP growth alone cannot provide “lasting prosperity and competitiveness” and argues for a low-carbon economy to deliver “high employment and equality of opportunity, and place wellbeing and regard for natural resources at its core”.

The businesses involved in the campaign include Anglian Water, Kier, M&S, National Grid and Willmott Dixon.

Kingfisher chief executive Sir Ian Cheshire said: “The last seven years have shown us that we urgently need an economy that contributes to society and strengthens it.

“GDP is not a comprehensive measure of prosperity: it is an important tool, not a goal in itself. Instead of maximum linear growth in GDP, we need to start thinking of maximum wellbeing for minimum planetary input.”

Supporting Firms:

Anglian Water; Asda; Aviva Investors; Bank of America Merrill Lynch; BT; CDP; Energy Saving Trust; The Equality Trust; Forum for the Future; Friends of the Earth; Grant Thornton; Green Alliance; IEMA; Interface; Johnson Matthey; Kier Group; Kingfisher; Landmark; Lucideon; M&S; National Grid; the National Union of Students; Nestlé; New Economics Foundation; Reed Elsevier; RSPB; Share Action; Sky; Thames Water; Trade Union Congress; the UK Green Building Council; Willmott Dixon; the Woodland Trust; WSP and WWF.

Peter Young, chair of the Aldersgate Group said: “Despite encouraging UK growth figures, we risk getting stuck with reduced wellbeing, rising inequality, continued loss of natural capital and rising resource pressures.

“Policymakers urgently need to look beyond GDP to define successful growth – setting far more coherent policy goals which strengthen the links between our economy, our society and the environment.”

The businesses said they would work with the UK government to identify important policies for change and encourage wider uptake of innovative business practices.

Report Findings:

Moving beyond ‘growth’ and defining six core characteristics of ‘An Economy that Works’:

1. High employment – investment in job generation and skills development, promoting flexible and part-time working, investing in lifetime educational support to increase financial independence and create fulfilling work opportunities.

2. Equality of opportunity – unlocking a ‘double dividend’: reducing inequality and boosting social and economic mobility for all; cutting the cost of employment and introducing living wage levels.

3. Wellbeing at the core – ensuring everyone has confidence their material needs will be met, supported by strong healthcare and education systems, strong social networks and democratic institutions.

4. Low carbon – there is no such thing as a high-carbon, low-cost future; effective carbon pricing and policy support for innovation and deployment of low-carbon technologies are essential. The environmental goods and services sector is growing and already represents £122bn (9.3 per cent) of the UK economy.

5. Zero waste – promotion of a circular economy to cut landfill and promote re-use of materials; UK could cut its reliance on raw materials by 20 per cent by 2020 and unlock a £5.6bn opportunity in UK re-manufacturing.

6. Enhancing nature - The UK’s diverse natural capital provides the economy and society with food, clean air, wildlife, energy, wood, recreation and protection from hazards. Measuring this value to the UK economy and preventing its exploitation makes sound business sense.

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