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New owners must ensure Green Investment Bank plays key role in UK decarbonisation challenge

20th April 2017

Reacting to today’s announcement that Macquarie will be the new owner of the Green Investment Bank (GIB), Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said:

“The GIB has added real value to the UK green infrastructure market through a focus on funding novel green infrastructure projects and crowding in additional private sector investment. We are pleased to see that Macquarie has committed to investing £3bn over three years to grow the GIB’s activities. This is a promising start – particularly combined with its recognition of the skills and expertise of GIB employees in both London and Scotland.

We call on Macquarie to honour these commitments and ensure the GIB plays its part in financing the green infrastructure that will be essential to delivering the UK’s climate and environmental policy objectives in the years ahead. Going forward, we also expect the GIB to continue to engage with stakeholders and report transparently on the impact of its green investments.”

Nick Molho added: “Now that the GIB has been fully privatised and the UK can expect to receive less funding from the European Investment Bank post Brexit, the government must ensure that it has a clear strategy in place to attract private finance to deliver its environmental and low carbon policy objectives. Projects involving new technologies and business models will be required to deliver the UK’s Clean Growth Plan and 25 Year Environment Plan. Targeted government support will be essential to make these projects attractive to private investors such as pension funds.”

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UK needs strong environmental standards after Brexit

29th March 2017

Reacting to the Prime Minister’s triggering of Article 50 today, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: 

“Several key environmental and climate change policies are derived from EU legislation. Brexit will open up opportunities to make improvements in certain areas such as farming but the UK’s withdrawal must not lead to any weakening of our environmental protections or ambition. The UK needs stable and ambitious policies that will help improve the state of its environment for the benefit of its economy and society and attract more private investment in innovation and green infrastructure.” 

Nick Molho added: “There are many areas of environmental and energy policy where it will be in the interest of businesses and consumers for the UK to continue working closely with the EU. This will be important in areas such as product standards that will still apply to British businesses selling goods in the Single Market and the future of the Internal Energy Market, which is essential to the cost-effective and secure growth of renewable energy in the UK.” 

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UK needs more ambition on clean tech to be at cutting edge of global economy

8th March 2017

Reacting to the Spring Budget today, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said:

“It was positive to see lots of focus in today’s budget on supporting innovative businesses and ensuring the UK’s workforce has the skills it needs to benefit from the job opportunities of the future. But despite the fact that some of our key trading partners such as China[1] are investing heavily in renewable energy and other clean technologies, there was no reference to the importance of the low carbon sector to the future competitiveness of the UK economy[2].

If the UK is to meet the Chancellor’s ambition of being at the cutting edge of the global economy, the Autumn Budget will need to be much clearer about the UK’s environmental and low carbon ambitions and provide a clear business plan to meet the UK’s policy objectives under its Emissions Reduction Plan and 25 Year Plan for the Environment.”


[1] A record $285bn was invested in renewable energy globally in 2015 – see Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investments 2016 – http://bit.ly/1RAJA8w

[2] The UK’s low carbon and renewable energy economy was responsible for over 447,000 jobs and a turnover in excess of £83bn in 2014 – see UK Environmental Accounts: Low Carbon and Renewable Energy Economy Survey, total activity: 2014 – http://bit.ly/2mlwIOG

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Low carbon growth essential to deliver objectives of UK Industrial Strategy

3rd March 2017

Reacting to the Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee’s review of the Industrial Strategy, the Aldersgate Group stressed that supporting the continued growth of the UK’s low carbon supply chains is essential to deliver the government’s objectives of supporting growth across the UK.

The Committee calls for horizontal policies to drive forward the Prime Minister’s ambition of rebalancing productivity and growth the UK. A recent report from the Aldersgate Group showed that the UK’s cross-sector low carbon and renewable energy economy, which was responsible for over 447,000 jobs and a turnover in excess of £83bn in 2014[1], has seen significant investment in jobs and skills in parts of the UK that have suffered most from under-investment in recent years[2]. The continued growth of low carbon markets such as offshore wind, electric vehicles, ICT and energy efficiency, can have a central role in driving productivity and the government’s objective of delivering an economy that works for everyone.

Nick Molho, executive director of the Aldersgate Group said: “Supporting the continued growth of the UK’s low carbon economy provides the horizontal cut-through that the BEIS Committee demands. The government’s Industrial Strategy must complement its Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP) to maximise growth in UK low carbon supply chains and provide the policy consistency that business needs.” 

 

[1] ONS (30th November 2016) “UK Environmental Accounts: Low Carbon and Renewable Energy Economy Survey, total activity: 2014”

[2] Aldersgate Group (September 2016) Setting the Pace. Northern England’s Low Carbon Economy

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Scottish Government reasserts its ambition for a low carbon future

24th January 2017

Reacting to the publication of the Scottish Government’s Draft Energy Strategy today and Draft Climate Change Plan last week, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said:

"The Scottish Government has set out some challenging climate targets but has a great opportunity to capitalise on the progress already achieved and continue growing Scotland’s low carbon economy and supply chain. The bold measures that are being considered are welcome - particularly actions to tackle emissions in the built environment and transport. The proposal for 50% of all energy to be generated from renewables by 2030 will set an important long term signal that businesses can respond to with affordable investment and innovation. Technologies such as hydrogen can play an important role in the decarbonisation of heating, if the lack of progress on Carbon Capture and Storage can be tackled, but continued support should be given to more established technologies such as district heating networks and heat pumps."

Nick Molho added: "It is also positive to see that the Scottish Government’s consultation on improving energy efficiency includes suggestions such as tax rebates and green mortgages. Targeting fiscal incentives at key moments in a building’s life will help drive demand for energy efficiency improvements, with positive knock-on impacts on energy bills, carbon emissions and insulation supply chains. It is essential that the Scottish Government takes concrete measures as an outcome of this consultation."

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UK needs ambitious policy on resource efficiency as it prepares to leave EU

23rd January 2017

A new report from the Aldersgate Group out today, Amplifying action on resource efficiency, brings forward new business trials showing that greater resource efficiency could deliver significant economic benefits to the UK. To reap these rewards, the UK must outline the future of its resource efficiency policy, much of which currently comes from EU legislation. 

The new research published by the Aldersgate Group on behalf of the REBus project is based on the successful delivery of 26 business pilots that have delivered £4.89m in financial savings and reduced materials consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 62,619 tonnes and 1,953 tonnes, respectively. The work has been conducted across the UK and the Netherlands in a range of key market sectors (including electrical and electronic products, textiles, construction and ICT) that are worth an estimated €350bn to the EU economy. 

Based on the results from the pilot projects, the research also finds that adopting resource efficient business models across these key sectors of the EU economy could deliver an increase of up to €324bn of gross value added (GVA) by 2030 to the EU economy. Of this, the UK alone could see up to €88.4bn (approx. £76.9bn) in GVA gains.

The report features learnings from these business pilots as well as several case studies from Aldersgate Group members, including IKEA UK, Sky and Thames Water. The pilots taking part range from small SMEs such as iPower (whose installation of small scale fuel cells in social housing is estimated to save consumers up to 36% on their energy bills, whilst mitigating 3-4 tonnes of CO2 annually) to the Dutch Ministry of Defence (whose textile recovery programme for its military personnel has delivered additional revenue of approximately €750,000 and a savings of over 14,500 tonnes of CO2 annually).

As the UK prepares to leave the EU, the report sets out a range of key policy recommendations for the UK government based on the learnings from these business pilots:

1.    Improving the resource efficiency of the UK economy requires the development of government policy that is backed by all key departments across Whitehall and should feature in the upcoming industrial strategy.

2.    The government should develop standards that require products sold in the UK to be designed in a way that is resource efficient in order to minimise waste and ensure consumers benefit from better quality products that last as long they expect them to. These standards should be as good as or better than what will be put in place under the EU Circular Economy Package to avoid putting British businesses and consumers at a disadvantage.

3.    Government policy should help drive innovation on resource efficiency by helping businesses, especially SMEs, have better access to finance and technical advice.

4.    The UK should build on the success of its landfill tax and promote other fiscal incentives to encourage the re-use of materials, such as through variable VAT rates that favour resource efficient goods and services over their counterparts.

5.    Waste regulations need to be improved to ensure that secondary materials are not classified as ‘waste’, as long as a safe, alternative use can be found for them.

Other recommendations in the report include leading by example through public procurement practices that favour resource saving goods and services and improving the availability of data on how businesses are becoming more resource efficient. 

Steve Wallace, Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “The businesses involved in Rebus have demonstrated that resource efficiency can lead to commercial success. Theirs is an example  that others can follow. The pilots demonstrate that resource efficiency makes business sense and that there’s a double-win given the environmental benefits that coincide with the financial gains. The report that we are launching today sets out the critical actions required to encourage and support more businesses to follow this path, leading to a more resource efficient and therefore more prosperous UK economy.”

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “As it prepares to leave the EU, the government should urgently develop a resource efficiency policy that will help replicate the benefits of these pilot projects across the UK economy. This policy should be supported by all key government departments and should include fiscal incentives, product standards on resource efficiency that are as good as or better than what is in place in the EU and working with businesses to remove the financial and technical barriers that stand in the way of innovation."


New business trials show need for ambitious Circular Economy Package

23rd January 2017

A new report from the Aldersgate Group out today, Amplifying action on resource efficiency, brings forward new business trials showing that greater resource efficiency could deliver significant economic benefits to EU businesses. By encouraging resource efficient design and tackling key barriers such as access to finance, the Circular Economy Package could significantly improve the resilience and competitiveness of the EU economy.

The new research published by the Aldersgate Group on behalf of the REBus project is based on the successful delivery of 26 business pilots that have delivered €5.62m in financial savings and reduced materials consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 62,619 tonnes and 1,953 tonnes, respectively. The work has been conducted across the UK and the Netherlands in a range of key market sectors (including electrical and electronic products, textiles, construction and ICT) that are worth an estimated €350bn to the EU economy.

Based on the results from the pilot projects, the research also finds that adopting resource efficient business models across these key sectors of the EU economy could deliver:

  • Significant financial benefits: An increase of up to €324bn in gross value added (GVA) to the EU economy by 2030;
  • Reduced materials dependence: A reduction in material demand of up to 184 million tonnes and an additional 172 million tonnes of material diverted by 2030;
  • Decreases in greenhouse gas emissions: A reduction of up to 154 million tonnes CO2eq by 2030.

The report features learnings from these business pilots as well as several case studies from Aldersgate Group corporate members, including IKEA UK and Sky. The pilots taking part range from small SMEs such as iPower (whose installation of small scale fuel cells in social housing is estimated to save consumers up to 36% on their energy bills, whilst mitigating 3-4 tonnes of CO2 annually) to the Dutch Ministry of Defence (whose textile recovery programme for its military personnel has delivered additional revenue of approximately €750,000 and a savings of over 14,500 tonnes of CO2 annually).

The report also sets out a range of policy recommendations for the EU Circular Economy Package based on the learnings from these business pilots:

  1. The Ecodesign Working Plan must embrace resource efficiency standards and apply them across an increasingly broader range of products to ensure consumers are purchasing goods that last as long as they should and waste isn’t unnecessarily created.
  2. A viable innovation framework that improves businesses’ access to funding and technical expertise must be supported. This is especially true for SMEs.
  3. The Commission should encourage and support Member States to introduce fiscal incentives, such as variable VAT rates, so that circular products and services are promoted over their counterparts. The EU’s Action Plan on VAT provides a clear opportunity to address this.

Other recommendations in the report include EU public institutions leading by example through public procurement practices that favour resource saving goods and services, finalising the changes to the definition of ‘waste’ to incentivise the re-use of materials and improving the availability of data on how businesses are becoming more resource efficient.

Steve Wallace, Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “The businesses involved in Rebus have demonstrated that resource efficiency can lead to commercial success. Theirs is an example  that others can follow. The pilots demonstrate that resource efficiency makes business sense and that there’s a double-win given the environmental benefits that coincide with the financial gains. The report that we are launching today sets out the critical actions required to encourage and support more businesses to follow this path, leading to a more resource efficient and therefore more prosperous European economy.”

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “The Circular Economy Package is a great opportunity to scale up the benefits of these pilot projects across the EU. By requiring more resource efficient product design, working with businesses to remove the financial and technical barriers that stand in the way of innovation and encouraging the use of fiscal incentives, the Circular Economy Package could significantly improve the resource efficiency, competitiveness and resilience of the EU economy.”

European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: "The Circular Economy is an important element to modernise the European economy. If we want to transform the market economy in a more sustainable direction, we must show there is a business case behind the circular way of thinking. To make it happen the Commission's and co-legislators' task is to set the appropriate framework. However, it is eventually companies that bring a more circular and sustainable economy into reality. The REBus project presents valuable evidence that being circular is profitable. At the same time it provides ideas on how to change the regulatory environment to help business get engaged in this transition."


Aldersgate Group welcomes Industrial Strategy Green Paper

23rd January 2017

Reacting to the publication of the Building our Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said:
 
"The government’s focus on ensuring the UK secures the economic benefits of an affordable and timely transition to a low carbon economy is welcome. The opportunities arising from the low carbon economy extend beyond energy innovation into a wide range of highly productive sectors. This part of the economy was already employing 447,500 people in 2014, with a turnover in excess of £83bn. The global transition to a more decarbonised economy led by countries as diverse as China, India, Brazil and South Africa offers significant economic opportunities in areas where the UK has a competitive advantage, such as in ultra-low emission vehicles, offshore wind, the built environment and ICT.

The government’s forthcoming emissions reduction plan will be key in attracting affordable private investment into energy efficient and low carbon projects in the UK. Through greater co-ordination with Local Enterprise Partnerships, a clear low carbon skills policy and consideration on the future role of the UK’s energy intensive industries in the low carbon economy, the industrial strategy could help maximise growth and employment opportunities in the UK’s low carbon supply chains."

Nick Molho added: "The industrial strategy must also embrace resource efficiency. As seen in two reports launched this morning, the shift to a more circular economy will help deliver financial benefits and carbon emission savings in addition to reducing the UK’s resource dependency."

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GIB continues important role with completion of its offshore wind fund

13th January 2017

Reacting to the Green Investment Bank’s completion of its offshore wind fund, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said:
 
“The completion of the Green Investment Bank’s offshore wind fund shows that the GIB has played an important role in increasing private sector investment in offshore wind and critically, attracting new kinds of investors to the sector such as local authority pension funds. If privatisation of the GIB goes ahead, the government will have to ensure that it has a clear strategy in place to attract private sector investment in the novel green infrastructure projects that the UK needs to decarbonise its economy.”

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