Commenting on the 2012 Budget, Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group (AG), said: "The Budget was a missed opportunity to align the reforms to support growth with green policy and so stimulate sustainable growth in reality as well as in name." In the run up to Budget, fifty companies and green groups supported the AG's call for a credible growth strategy that catalyses investment in clean technologies.
Mr Young added: "The proposal to publish a strategy to promote gas generation and tax breaks for oil exploration sits uncomfortably with our statutory carbon budgets which future chancellors may regret. Equivalent tax measures for low carbon investment would have stimulated jobs fit for the future and provided more resilience to our economy."
Some of the UK's largest businesses and green groups have called on the Chancellor to deliver on the Government's commitment to be "the greenest ever". In an open letter published in the run up to the Budget, it calls for a credible growth strategy that catalyses investment in renewables and energy efficiency, spurring the economic recovery.
Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group, 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."
For more on this story click here.
The Government's Resource Security Action Plan, published today, cites the Aldersgate Group's Beyond Carbon report as evidence for the need for a targeted resource strategy, and answers our call to develop a dashboard to raise awareness and help companies understand the risk and issues associated with the security of materials.
Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group, said: "The era of plentiful and cheaper resources is over. Our business members are facing rising costs for essential raw materials and minerals, while constraints on their availability and price volatility are having a damaging effect on the economy.
That is why the Aldersgate Group has been calling for a strategy which goes beyond carbon to address critical resource efficiency challenges in all areas of the economy, to remain competitive in global markets, both now and in the future. The Government's action plan is a welcome first step to ensure that growth isn't damaged by potential supply uncertainty and the UK gains competitive advantage from increased resilience."
For Guardian coverage, click here.
Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group (AG), told Bloomberg that the GIB should be able to issue bonds to help finance clean-energy projects such as renewable technologies from April 2013. He said that "the earlier bonds are issued, the faster we should get the Green Investment Bank leveraging off institutional investors and deploying capital at the scale the low carbon transition needs to meet our carbon targets and economic imperatives." For the full Bloomberg article, click here.
Commenting on the announcement on location a few days later, Peter said, "We welcome the decision and in particular the opportunity for the GIB to have a dual presence in both London and Edinburgh. This will ensure proximity to the London financial centre which will be vital, but also create a talent pool based nearer some of the key markets for low carbon project delivery, such as Scottish marine renewables. We look forward to swift recruitment to build the excellent expertise necessary to build market confidence in the GIB."
Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Caroline Flint, moved an Opposition debate in the House of Commons on 5th March on jobs and growth in a low-carbon economy. For further information click here.
The motion called on the Government to bring forward an active industrial strategy for low-carbon growth by providing a stable policy framework to unlock private investment, improving public procurement, developing a low-carbon skills strategy and encourage manufacturing. This followed a speech Caroline Flint gave at the Aldersgate Group, cited in the Commons debate, that outlined the details for such a strategy.
In addition, Vince Cable gave a speech on the 27th Feb on the next step's for an industrial strategy and what role the Government can, and should, play in relation to specific sectors, technologies, and public procurement. For further information, click here.
A new Aldersgate Group report, Building Britain, suggests that progress has been made by Government in shaping the regulatory and fiscal framework for sustainable buildings in the UK. However, the industry's prospects of delivering on carbon reduction targets whilst remaining competitive is still somewhat hampered by a lack of clarity, consistency and effective enforcement.
Jon Lovell, Director of Sustainability at Drivers Jonas Deloitte, who authored the report, said: "With the rising cost of energy having such a clear impact on the bottom line of business, and on the health and well being of a growing proportion of society, the government must re-double its efforts in pushing forward with a joined-up programme of effective and proportionate regulation, particularly on the efficiency agenda."
See coverage in the Guardian here.
An open letter to Ed Davey was published in the Sunday Telegraph (12th February), signed by the AG alongside key businesses. It supports the need for credible long-term policies and vocal ministerial support across Government, to give businesses sufficient certainty to invest in the UK's transition to a low carbon economy. Other signatories included Kingfisher, M&S, National Grid, RSA, Thames Water, Unilever, Vodafone and WWF.
The Aldersgate Group's lead on best-value regulation, Terry A'Hearn, has told the Cambridge Sustainability Network that we need to reinvent our regulatory systems in face of new challenges.
He said, "We need a regulatory revolution because the nature of the challenges societies must confront in the 21st century is fundamentally different from those of the 20th century. The major challenges of the 21st century are systemic in nature. They will throw into question the resilience of our systems." New regulations should reduce public expenditure and be made redundant through its own success over a 10-year period, as well as increase profitability to business.
Speaking at an Aldersgate Group (AG) event, the DECC Shadow Secretary of State has challenged the Coalition Government's green credentials and called for an industrial strategy to promote green growth. She argued against the view that economic growth and environmental sustainability are inherently irreconcilable saying, "We can grow our economy and benefit the planet."
To read the Guardian article covering this speech, click here.
The Aldersgate Group and UK Green Building council have urged the Education Secretary not to scrap BREEAM requirement for new schools. In a joint letter to Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, they argue that the cost of a school achieving an "excellent" BREEAM standard would be far outweighed by the resulting saving on energy bills.
For more information, see the Guardian coverage here.
Following the news that Chris Huhne has resigned from Cabinet, the Guardian has reported that he won plaudits from many in the green movement who saw him fight for his department, DECC, against sceptics in the Treasury and secure vital funds for key projects despite dismal government finances.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: "His biggest success has been winning the argument with cabinet colleagues on the fourth carbon budget [which strengthened the UK's carbon-cutting targets up to 2027] – demonstrating that ambitious carbon cuts through the 2020s can benefit both the environment and the economy. He has also managed to get major concessions from the Treasury regarding the green investment bank, ensuring that it will have £3bn in initial funding in spite of severe fiscal constraints."
For full article, click here.
AG Director Ian Dickie, was a keynote speaker at the first Earth Debate, organised by the Natural History Museum in the run up to the RIO+20 Earth Summit. The event was a wide-ranging debate which highlighted the importance of understanding the value of nature, and to put this into a language that decision makers understand.
Ian argued that ecosystem services can link to familiar business terms through concepts such as natural capital, which demonstrate that "environmental assets have a value for humans and business both now and in the future." He said that valuing such services in monetary terms can help "inform the decision-making process and sustain economic value from the environment into the future".
To watch the debate, click here.
AG Director, Chris Tuppen, has advised MPs that the UK should seek to develop the reporting and accountability of its consumption emissions to supplement the carbon budgets (which are measured on a production basis). Appearing as a witness to the Energy and Climate Change Committee, he said that this "would be complementary to how the Government encourage businesses and organisations to report their carbon emissions".
Chris Huhne, DECC Secretary of State, announced that the UK will provide administrative support to the UN's Green Climate Fund at the Aldersgate Group reception on the climate change talks at Durban. He stated, "I'm pleased to announce today that the UK government will contribute to the set-up costs of the fund during 2012 and of course we will also be considering a substantial contribution to its activities once it's fully operational". Other countries contributing to the set-up costs of the Green Climate Fund include the Republic of Korea, Germany and Denmark.
He also defended the Coalition's environmental performance declaring, "we are absolutely on course to be the greenest government ever".
The AG has formally responded to DECC's Red Tape Challenge, emphasising the need to focus on regulatory outcomes to drive growth in the long term. The AG has argued that a streamlined approach can reduce business costs, for example by reforming climate change and energy efficiency legislation.
A technical paper on the economic benefits of resource efficiency by Aldersgate Group (AG) Directors Andrew Raingold, Sir John Harman and Ian Dickie has been published in the international journal "Proceedings of ICE - Waste and Resource Management". Permission has been kindly granted to print one copy of the article for personal use by AG stakeholders. Any other use of the PDF file is subject to reprint fees.