Green projects are boosting UK growth

The transition to a greener economy is worth £71bn and has brought jobs and investment to parts of the UK experiencing industrial decline. 

Those are the key findings of a new report written by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

The drive to reach net zero emissions involves more than 20,000 businesses, it calculates. 

Some 840,000 jobs are linked to sectors ranging from renewable energy to waste management, it adds.

Titled Mapping The Net Zero Economy, the report looked at the parts of the UK that have benefited most from policies aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Scotland and English regions, such as Tyneside, Teeside, Merseyside and the Humber, had all done better than average, with the green economy being stronger and contributing more to growth than in London and the South East. 

Green jobs also pay significantly more, the report says, with the average wage (£42,600) significantly above the national average (£33,400).

„The net zero economy is addressing levelling up and the UK’s productivity problem,” says Peter Chalkley, the director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) who commissioned the research.

„But if the UK doesn’t build on the good work that has already been done, we will lose out and lose jobs.”

The UK has long been seen as a leader in green technology, in particular offshore wind, but this position is at risk. 

„Other places (in the world) are really setting out their stalls for how they’re going to capture that investment,” says Tom Thackeray from the CBI who carried out the analysis, adding that there is now a „global competition” for green funding. 

The passing last year of landmark legislation in the United States called the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has, analysts say, changed the global dynamic for green investment. The Bill puts aside $369bn (£297bn) for action related to tackling climate change and many companies now see America as the best destination for their money. 

„There’s an excitement [about the US since the IRA], so the challenge for us is to reignite the excitement back in the UK,” says Chris Stark, the chief executive of the Climate Change Committee, a public body that advises the UK government on its green policies.

The view that the UK is losing momentum was also in Tory MP Chris Skidmore’s Mission Zero report last month in which he said the UK was falling behind in the net zero race.

Restrictive planning regulations for onshore wind and solar, and a lack of consistency in policy were among many issues Mr Skidmore cited as holding back investment from the private sector.

„We need to really speed up planning and consent for renewables and for network connections and for vehicle charging,” says Emma Pinchbeck, the chief executive of trade association Energy UK. 

„It takes 12 years to build a wind farm in this country, when it should take one.”

Responding to the report and the criticism of policy, a government spokesman said the UK was leading the world on tackling climate change.

„Our plans will support up to 480,000 jobs by 2030,” they said. „We are driving an unprecedented £100bn of private sector investment by 2030, backed by around £30bn in funding from the government since March 2021 to achieve 

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