Business leaders demand green Budget

An influential businesses group today urged Chancellor George Osborne to set out a comprehensive green growth strategy in next month’s Budget. This, argues the Aldersgate Group, would help reduce the […]

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By Kelvin Ross

An influential businesses group today urged Chancellor George Osborne to set out a comprehensive green growth strategy in next month’s Budget.

This, argues the Aldersgate Group, would help reduce the budget deficit and drive a dynamic economic recovery by increasing output and creating jobs.

The group includes bosses from Pepsi, The Co-operative Group, Merrill Lynch and Axa as well as representatives from groups such as Friends of the Earth, the TUC and several MPs.

A report to be published next week by the group warns that the UK economy risks being left behind unless the government implements urgently a green growth strategy.

It says the strategy must include a strong policy framework to address market failure across the economy, combined with a concerted push to support those sectors that have competitive advantages, and this must extend beyond traditional environmental industries to sectors such as automotive and construction.

Failure to act, warns Aldersgate, will mean investment flowing to more attractive markets, leaving the UK at a disadvantage for years to come.

Aldersgate Group chairman Peter Young said: “The Chancellor has promised a ‘budget for growth’ but we believe this must be a ‘budget for green growth’. The UK needs an explicit strategy to take advantage of the global shift to a green economy; driving jobs and exports. Cuts alone will not deliver a competitive economy.”

Richard Evans, president of PepsiCo UK and Ireland and an Aldersgate Group member, said: “The UK needs a simpler and more ambitious policy framework so that businesses take the lead in the low carbon market. This must include a robust carbon price and incentives to spur innovation. To be a growing and green economy, we need to tax what we burn and not what we earn – the forthcoming budget can start this shift.”

Chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, Tim Yeo, is also an Aldersgate Group member. He said: “Britain’s best chance of resuming satisfactory economic growth is to seize the opportunities for leadership in green technology. Those countries which move swiftly to low-carbon energy, low-carbon transport and a low-carbon built environment will enjoy a huge first-mover advantage during the next two decades.”

“Britain’s intellectual leadership of the climate change issue, its resourceful workforce and its outstanding record of innovation all equip it well to be one of the world’s pioneers in green growth. This budget is a chance for the chancellor to play his role in making this the greenest government ever.”