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UK firms urge Chancellor to return to green growth

UK businesses including contractor Willmott Dixon and engineering consultants WSP have urged the Chancellor to invest in renewables and energy efficiency in his budget on Wednesday to spur economic growth.

Environmental business coalition the Aldersgate Group, whose members also include the UK Green Building Council, Insitution of Civil Engineers and M&S, have urged the Chancellor not to abandon green growth in an open letter published today.

The signatories to the letter also include Aviva, BT, Cisco, Diageo, IKEA, Microsoft, PepsiCo, National Grid, RWE Npower, Siemens, Worcester Bosch, Reed Elsevier, Anglian Water, Philips and Grant Thornton.

It states: “Policies that promote a shift away from high resource dependency will reduce the UK economyʼs exposure to volatile prices, vulnerable supply chains, and climate change impacts at home and abroad.

More widely, current economic challenges can be partly addressed by building a greener economy with more secure jobs, higher domestic value added, cleaner energy, increased productivity and greater protection for the natural environment.

The letter states that businesses are facing rising costs for essential raw materials and minerals, while their scarcity and price volatility are having a damaging effect on the economy. As a result, safeguarding the environment will lead the way to a more competitive and resilient economy.

They have penned the letter in opposition to the George Osborne’s comments in last year’s Autumn Statement in which he said that if the goverment burdens businesses “with endless social and environmental goals – however worthy in their own right – then not only will we not achieve those goals, but the businesses will fail, jobs will be lost, and our country will be poorer.”

Aldersgate Group chairman Peter Young said: “The Chancellor’s view that businesses and jobs will be lost in the pursuit of green goals seems to signal a return to a 1980s view of the environmental performance of the economy as a net cost, and to row back from previous statements made by this Government. On the contrary, as this letter makes clear, good environmental performance is now a prerequisite for economic competitiveness and growth in a resource constrained world.

“The UK is falling behind in the green economy race, investing 0.15 per cent of GDP in clean energy, compared to 1.4 per cent in Germany. A comprehensive growth strategy, coupled with more consistent messages across Whitehall, would drive investment and help build more secure jobs.”

The letter cites analysis by McKinsey which finds that there is an opportunity to achieve a global resource productivity revolution comparable to the progress made on labour productivity during the 20th century – with a total value to society estimated at $2.9 trillion in 2030.

The signatories to the letter support the need for:

  • Credible, consistent and bankable policies to accelerate the transition to a sustainable economy.
  • Delivery against the Government’s commitment to be “the greenest ever”, supported by strong and consistent communication.
  • A credible growth strategy that catalyses investment in renewables and energy efficiency. 
  • Developing a decision making framework where environmental, social and economic goals are integrated and complementary, such as by the welcome announcement on the intention to include natural capital in the national account


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