The coalition government is committed to investing a significant amount of money in green technologies and jobs between now and 2015. However, it is important to realise that this alone cannot transform Britain into a low-carbon economy. Given that 95 per cent of companies in the UK are small enterprises, it is imperative to engage these organisations in the emerging green economy and foster entrepreneurialism. .
To address this issue, the New Statesman, in partnership with Shell and Demos, held a series of fringe events at the recent party conferences. The discussion, the highlights of which have been written up for the benefit of readers within these pages, focused on what the government can do to help and encourage small and medium-sized green enterprises and the extent to which big businesses have a responsibility to nurture them. There was agreement between many of our panellists that appropriate funding is key to success. Without it, there will be little chance for UK businesses to fine-tune their ideas or take an international leadership role.
This is an issue not only for the banks, which have proved risk averse when it comes to lending to green businesses, but also for government. The Green Investment Bank, for example, is a good idea in principle but fails to address the funding needs of the small businesses that will shape our future.