Leading academics and researchers have said that between £200 billion and £500 billion is needed to hit carbon reduction targets for 2020.
Speaking at the Energy Solutions conference at London’s Olympia, Paul Ekins Professor of Energy and Environment Policy at UCL said: “The single most important aspect of the policy regime in my view is to make it possible for businesses to make money out of carbon reduction. At the moment that is still rather a difficult task.”
Helping business to profit from low carbon schemes is a top priority for Professor Ekins who believes providing this investment would turn the tide and help the UK decarbonise much more easily.
Dr Victoria Johnson from the New Economics Foundation agreed:”We really need to invest and one way to do this is a green investment retail bank to provide small interest loans to SMEs who will help transform the economy to low carbon.
“But the key is investment, investment, investment, there’s been a lot of assessment about how much we need to spend on the energy infrastructure to get to a low carbon future and that figure is around £200bn at the moment there’s no investment anywhere near that,” she said.
As well as investment, many speakers said clearer policy frameworks were needed in order for sustainable strategies to be a success and that the advantages of renewables and greener products seemed to be let down by a lack of rigid legislature.
David Kennedy, Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change said: “You can see there is an opportunity to save money through energy efficiency. We can save money as we act on climate change. Rather than looking to high carbon assets that will become redundant, we can invest now in low carbon assets that will have decades of life in a low carbon world.”
Mr Kennedy outlined several new policy options including improving residential energy efficiency, changing the electricity markets and improving support for electric vehicles. He said such changes would readily reduce emissions and therefore help the UK hit its greener targets.