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Growing pains: British industry and the low-carbon transition

business and industry, economy, energy, science and technology, sustainability

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Author(s):  David Nash, Will Straw, Reuben Balfour
Published date:  04 Jun 2012
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The report explores the views of British industries that are critical to the low-carbon transition – the energy, transport and manufacturing sectors, as well as energy-intensive industries within manufacturing.

Our findings were drawn from a series of private roundtable discussions and interviews with senior executives from different sectors which shed light on the barriers to, and the opportunities presented by, the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The findings suggest that there are opportunities for UK plc to take advantage of and adapt to the challenges presented by the UK’s low-carbon transition (particularly in Transport and Energy sectors). However, the findings also highlight the need for policymakers to have a more active role in addressing the barriers to low-carbon growth (which face many manufacturing and energy-intensive industries in particular).

The paper presents a series of policy interventions which would reinforce the UK’s low-carbon ambitions and provide vital support to UK industries:

  1. Provide stable, consistent and long-term policy: industry representatives were united in their views that the policy framework should be stable; many complained about the government ‘moving its goalposts’.
  2. Develop sectoral industrial strategies to spur low-carbon energy, transport and manufacturing.
  3. Ensure more nuanced policy for energy-intensive firms: in some cases energy-intensive firms face barriers and challenges that are specific to their individual sectors.
  4. Introduce a targeted ‘green deal’ for manufacturers: manufacturers need more incentives to invest in low-carbon and energy-efficient technologies.
  5. Collaborate with European partners on low-carbon innovation to target possible technological breakthroughs.
  6. Work proactively with industry to promote international sectoral agreements: although not a replacement for binding country-level emissions reduction commitments, sectoral cooperation can be a precursor to greater regulatory action at the national and global levels.
 
 

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Will Straw, Associate Director for Climate Change, Energy and Transport

 

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