UK Could Miss Out On £4.3bn Green Technology Opportunity According to CBI
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has warned that the UK may miss out on a potential £4.3bn economic opportunity if it continues to be 'complacent' about green technologies. They are concerned that not enough is being done to invest in this sector. In his speech, Danker argued that Rishi Sunak could reach his 0.1% pledge to expand the economy by 2023, however, this amount could be restricted unless the current Prime Minister and his ministers look towards higher targets. The talk was based on the economic development strategies of the three Conservative Prime Ministers that Britain experienced in the past twelve months.
Despite global economic difficulties, Danker suggested that to achieve growth beyond the current level, innovation in areas necessary to reach the UK's legal commitment to a net-zero target by 2050 is essential. He highlighted that, with nations and regions covering 91% of global GDP having already set net-zero goals, the UK is not winning the international clean technology competition.
He expressed his concern about the UK's "complacency on green technologies" and was "devastated" by Chris Skidmore's recent Net-Zero Review. The review identified more than 120 measures that the government must take to create a 'pro-business, pro-growth' transition to net-zero, concluding that the opportunity still exists but there is a need for prompt action. A number of the recommendations need to be carried out this year.
Danker concluded that the UK is being outstripped by the US and Europe in terms of investment and innovation. He highlighted that the Germans are ahead when it comes to heat pumps, insulation and building retrofits, the French have a better EV charging infrastructure, and the US have more operational carbon capture and storage projects - even though the UK has a North Sea advantage. Additionally, the UK is lacking in terms of hydrogen funding compared to the three aforementioned countries.
In Danker's words: "Britain has the potential to be one of the best in the world when it comes to green growth, as demonstrated by its net-zero targets. However, we are in danger of being outperformed by the US and Europe, both of which are in a race to take up a large portion of the global market."
At the World Economic Forum's annual gathering in Davos last week, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, declared that a new Industrial Plan which is compatible with the EU's 2050 climate targets is in the works. This plan will involve both public and private funding to compete with the US's Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
In August of last year, the US passed a milestone piece of legislation that is the largest single package of spending on low-carbon technologies and activities by any government. This bill allocates $369bn to climate action initiatives, including subsidies for already existing wind and solar energy, as well as for next-gen renewable energy technologies such as floating wind and green hydrogen. Electric vehicles, alternative fuels for aviation and shipping, and low-carbon technologies for ports are also included in the package. Moreover, the bill provides funding for upskilling and reskilling workers, alongside making infrastructure more climate-resilient in areas usually affected by extreme weather.
Danker commented that the UK Government has upped its investments in cleantech, but it is "not pushing itself to the limit" and ought to think about how it can fund its "special abilities" to rival countries such as the US and EU. He noted that if it fails to do so, it will miss out on a £4.3bn opportunity until 2030.
He emphasized that the Conservative Party should strive to repeat the success of offshore wind for other measures and technologies, such as energy efficiency and green finance. He proposed that the Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction process should be implemented for all clean energy technologies.
He requested additional resources for "underdeveloped activities that the market has not yet implemented", such as the large-scale storage of carbon.
In addition to finance
Danker observed that other countries are "outwitting" the UK in cleantech and also investing more money in it than the UK.
Danker urged for the reform of planning in combination with the Government providing more funding that is carefully designed for the purpose of green innovation.
He conveyed that their company excels at making difficult projects viable, on a national and local scale. He specified that these projects include the installation of connectors and the establishment of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure as well as onshore wind and solar.
According to the Energy Transitions Commission's most recent briefing, the typical duration for an offshore wind project in the UK has been 12 years to this point. The briefing outlines what the ETC believes are "simple" steps that could cut this average by more than half, bringing it down to 5.5 years.
Danker finished off with a sharp assessment: "It is evident that subsidies and modernization of regulations are not favored by the Conservative Party. However, their refusal to make any alterations with regards to green innovation fundamentally undermines their ambition of making the UK the most advanced economy in the world."
In the UK, they have streamlined the planning process for battery energy storage, yet they are still consulting on ways to speed up wind deployment. The Conservative Party have typically favoured offshore wind over solar and onshore wind.
Danker called upon companies to hasten their transition to net-zero without any governmental regulations. He stated: "Politicians' commitment to this cause may be wavering, but it is a matter of corporate policy. If you don't strive to become a more environmentally friendly organization, you are lagging behind."
Stressing the need for sensible planning to expand the UK's supply of green skills, Danker advocated for deviating from EU protocols only when it was "smart and suitable".
He expressed his concern that the Retained EU Law Bill, meant to sunset most EU laws transcribed into British law during Brexit by the end of 2020, is "causing major instability for businesses". He warned of a potential weakening of health and safety regulations, employee rights, and environmental guidelines if the Bill is "carelessly" pushed through.
Liz Truss was the one to introduce the Bill. As a result, the UK's post-Brexit environmental watchdog contacted multiple government departments and asked that an environmental non-regression safeguard be included and that the timelines be extended.
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