The move towards a low-carbon economy presents a challenge, yet also offers a huge opportunity for business and green jobs which could boost the resilience of our economy.
Implemented correctly, “green business” should help growth and enterprise, without damaging the environment. Green business is not sector-specific. It encompasses the use, development and implementation of new technologies and the adoption of varied, sustainable ways of working, as well as investment in infrastructure.
Some sectors in Britain are obvious candidates to benefit from this. As Julia King points out, the UK’s aerospace industry will be in demand to help lower the carbon output from planes. Natural gas is abundant, with an estimated 250 years’ worth of supply at current production rates still in the ground. It is also cheaper and cleaner than many alternatives; modern gas-fired plants emit seventy per cent less CO2 than the old coalfired plants still in operation. Other growth areas include the development of entirely new technologies. The UK has had success with fuel cells; wind and tidal power could be next.
We now have what amounts to a political consensus that the economy needs to be rebalanced. As well as giving individual sectors a boost, the shift towards green business could help in this, more widely, by growing the engineering and manufacturing sectors again and reducing our reliance on banking and financial services. The green agenda even permeates the services sector – the big consultancy firms are establishing teams to advise businesses on how to improve their energy efficiency to comply with the Climate Change Act.
Yet investing in new technologies and industries requires confidence, which is sadly lacking in a time of economic downturn. For green business to grow and thrive will require action by our government to push industry in the right direction. The whole economy will reap the rewards.