25 Oct 2017 The Clean Growth Strategy. Positive, Ambitious and Bold – Martyn Ingram, Group Director
The unveiling of the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy was always going to be a moment of interest, optimism, but also of a little trepidation to those of us in manufacturing and to those of us who work so closely with the rail, water, construction and nuclear industries.
We are at the coalface, keeping our industrial fires stoked, keeping our population on the move, making, fuelling and generating economic growth. We all do this in the most responsible way we can and we all help to support Britain’s success. But, of course, all of these industries come under close scrutiny when it comes to their green credentials.
So I was pleased that the tone of the Clean Growth Strategy was one of great positivity. Much has been achieved in British industry to improve, to evolve and to drive growth in a responsible way. And it is the case that we are leading the world in this regard. Since 1990, Britain has cut emissions by 42 percent, while our economy has grown by two-thirds. So, we have reduced emissions faster than any other G7 nation, while leading the G7 group of countries in growth in national income over this period.
The UK has a robust clean energy sector, it has invested in clean technology and processes and the boardrooms of its major player in industry ring with the sound of fresh ideas.
I was interested to read this week that our colleagues at Yorkshire Water have launched a scheme to encourage the public to invest in social bonds, to fund its upcoming developments, like, for instance, its natural flood management techniques.
I think this is the kind of innovative scheme that helps close the gap between the way industry operates and the way the public wants to see our world develop.
Wholesale change in practices comes when a wholesale change in attitude has happened. We all want to improve the way we produce, the way we operate and the way we use our resources. And we are at the point, as a society, where there is no retreating from this position.
Of course, implementing change is difficult, and incremental, and it involves failures as well as successes. The Clean Growth Strategy acknowledges that as well as working to meet our carbon targets there is also the need to safeguard jobs, to protect our economy and to support businesses to make changes and to further embed green thinking into their policies.
Research from the Centre for Industrial Energy, Materials and Products (CIEMAP) has revealed great scope for resource efficiency to deliver both emissions reductions and economic benefits across the British economy, but it now falls to all of us to play our part and to the Government to support businesses, by way of public policy, to realise these benefits. The Clean Growth Strategy is bold and it details ideas and proposals that will affect us all, both in business and in our domestic lives, from the way we heat our homes, to the cars we drive and the way we power our factories.
There will be missteps and bumps in the road when it comes to delivering such changes. Topics like Carbon Capture and Storage and offshore wind energy generation have already proved to be fraught with great practical difficulties when it comes to actually funding and delivering credible projects.
There are hurdles to overcome and more needs to be done to support innovators beyond the research and development stage, to bring the best ideas to fruition and to enable those ideas to be sustainable in practice. It is a naïve stance but I hope the bold intentions in the Clean Energy Strategy don’t get bogged down in too much political finger wagging. There is nothing more likely to turn the public off a bright, challenging, important idea than the noise of politics. And safeguarding the environment is something we all need to buy into if we are going to achieve success.