The UK is lagging in the international green race as ‘political football’ is the game of the day

A new report by the Green Alliance has warned that Britain may be beginning to fall behind in the ‘global green race’ due to a lack of commitment to low carbon strategies and ‘weak support’ for supply chain development alongside the rapid advancement of countries such as Germany, South Korea, and even China.
The UK ranks 6th in the Low Carbon and Environmental Goods and Services market (LCEGS) behind the US, China, Japan, India, and Germany. The research cites the UK’s ‘lack of political leadership’ as the reason for the stall, stating that political uncertainty ‘undermines business confidence and the UK’s ability to compete’. Uncertainty is never conducive to investment; and UK politics is full of it at the moment.

Although 6th doesn’t seem like a bad place to be, the research published last week predicts that the UK’s hold will continue to diminish as the lucrative and rapidly expanding green market continues to gather international clout. More and more companies are jumping on the sustainability wagon, pushing the UK further and further back.

Countries ahead of the UK have made stronger commitments in low carbon tech development and moreover matched this with long term funding plans according to the research. The report does acknowledge the UK has some good technological policies, but that the future investment to sustain current progress is simply not there; or not planned or allocated anyway.

The research also references the UK’s poor commercialisation record as a barrier to building up the UK’s reputation as an investment site for green industries. At present, the available funding is spread thin; £205m across nine separate initiatives for four years, and due to the political ruckus surrounding green issues, there is a significant lack of framework in place post 2020 which unease’s possible investors.

Director of the Green Alliance, Matthew Spencer, said: “Cleantech businesses contribute billions to the UK bottom line, but they feel like they are being used as a political football in a broader battle for the soul of the Conservative Party. Our competitors are raising their game, and Conservative ministers will have to be less equivocal in their commitment to low carbon if they want the UK to remain a leader in global green markets.”

The research identifies three steps that the UK must take to retain a presence in the world’s biggest emerging market. Firstly, UK politicians must raise the confidence of international investors. This could be done through using the £3b put aside for infrastructure investment between 2015 and 2016 for low carbon projects instead. Secondly, invest further in green technology, and thirdly, show greater support for the development of international campaigns and markets including the EU 2030 climate package.

Chief Operating Officer at RES UK (one of the businesses that contributed to the report), Gordon MacDougall, said: “The UK has a great chance to be at the forefront of the global low carbon transition, but only if the domestic policy environment is right. The Prime Minister is right to say that the UK is in a global economic race and for this reason government cannot afford to ignore the opportunity presented by our green businesses.”


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