Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, has told MPs that the Government's dash for infrastructure must include a more strategic review of long-term economic challenges, such as resource scarcity, to boost resilience and competitive advantage.
In reference to Treasury's National Loan Guarantee Scheme, he told the Environmental Audit Committee in a witness session for their inquiry into the Autumn Statement that "not one of the five criteria against which these projects are judged includes sustainability". This would risk locking into high carbon infrastructure that could lead to significant additional costs further down the line.
Speaking at the TUC Conference "Green is Good for Growth" with a keynote speech from Vince Cable, Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group, argued that the Government's plans for an industrial strategy should be enhanced.
He stated that: "Vince Cable said the new industrial strategies must deliver 'an enduring commitment far beyond a 5 year Parliament or spending review’ but the mechanisms to make that long term aspiration stick are still lacking. The GIB, and publishing future procurement pipelines, help but more certainty for business investment is needed.
Whilst the green economy is growing and providing much needed trade surpluses, the question is whether this is because of, or in spite of, current government policies? From an international perspective the UK has earnt a strong reputation for enabling policies such as the Climate Change Act. But now we are being called to deliver on action; our performance is equivocal and lowering our attractiveness to international investors."
The Aldersgate Group has published its consultation response to the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs' inquiry into the guidance for companies listed on the London Stock Exchange to report their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This announcement was strongly welcomed by the business community and must pave the way to extend the requirements to all large companies in due course.
The document sets out critical next steps to introduce the regulations. This includes when the regulations should come into effect, what emissions should be disclosed, suggested methodology, interaction with other reporting schemes (such as the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme) and the review period.
To read the Defra consultation, click here. To read the Aldersgate Group consultation response, click on the adjacent attachment.
Two AG members, Caroline Lucas MP and Tim Yeo MP, put down an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill to permit the Green Investment Bank (GIB) to borrow from the capital markets before June 2015, subject to state aid approval. While this did not succeed, BIS Minister Matthew Hancock MP said during the Commons debate that the Government has "been very clear about our commitment to allow borrowing and will look at how best to bring that clarity".
This follows a letter that was signed by Andrew Raingold, AG's Executive Director, to the Deputy Prime Minister which calls for the Liberal Democrats to implement the policy positions adopted at their party conference on decarbonising the UK's power grid and earlier borrowing powers for the GIB. In addition, the state aid approval for the GIB has been approved by the European Commission.
A powerful alliance of the UK's largest businesses and industry bodies have written to the Chancellor, stating that a 2030 carbon target for the power sector is essential for stimulating new growth in the economy. Only greater clarity from Government can unleash the £110bn investment required to transform the UK's electricity infrastructure and drive wider economic benefits.
Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group said: "The message of this letter is loud and clear: we must put an end to any political uncertainty surrounding the UK's energy future and start unleashing the billions of pounds of overdue investment which will deliver new growth for our economy."
To read the letter to the Chancellor, click on the button to the right.
The Aldersgate Group's Executive Director, Andrew Raingold, has been appointed as a special advisor to the Environmental Audit Committee in a personal capacity.
He said: "I look forward to working with the committee to assess the Government performance in meeting its sustainability goals. The lesson from many leading businesses in these tough economic times is that adopting ambitious green policies can be a spur for growth and innovation, rather than being a drag on competitiveness."