Thursday, February 7, 2013

British PM Says Investment in the Green Economy is a Competitive Necessity

On February 4, 2013, British Prime Minister David Cameron made a speech in which he spoke to the competitive necessity of his government's investments in the green economy. Speaking at the official launch of the Department of Energy and Climate Change's (DECC) new Energy Efficiency Mission, Cameron boldly addressed his critics by saying

"So to those who say we just can't afford to prioritize green energy right now, my view is we can't afford not to. Far from being a drag on growth, making our energy sources more sustainable, our energy consumption more efficient and our economy more resilient to energy price shocks – those things are a vital part of the growth and wealth that we need."

Cameron made a compelling case for cleantech investment in front of an audience of business leaders. Cameron explained that in the near future, only the world's greenest nations will be able to compete in the global economic race towards a low carbon economy. Cameron further argued that the UK must prioritize investment in green energy and energy efficiency if it wants to be internationally competitive.

"Make no mistake, we are in a global race and the countries that succeed in that race, the economies in Europe that will prosper, are those that are the greenest and the most energy efficient," Cameron said. "Energy consumption is set to grow by a third over the next two decades alone. And in a race for limited resources it is the energy efficient that will win that race."

While some believe that the fragile state of the economy precludes such investment, Cameron flatly rejected that argument by saying that the promotion of the government's wide range of energy efficiency policies is a matter of economic competitiveness. UK currently has an array of policies for driving energy efficiency investments. They include the Green Deal, the carbon floor price, Climate Change Agreements, Enhanced Capital Allowances and the Carbon Reduction Commitment.

However Climate minister Greg Barker, said there was the need for a more "coherent" approach to promoting these initiatives. To that end Cameron is calling for a closer working relationship between businesses and government.

"Already today Britain is one of the best places for green energy, green investment and crucially for green jobs anywhere in the world," Cameron said.

"But I want to go further... I want to bring these [policies] together and really explain to the world, and particularly investors, what is available here in Britain... Together we can make Britain a global showcase for green innovation and energy efficiency. Together we can do the right thing for our planet and, just as important, do the right thing for our economy too."

"It is the businesses that are best insulated from energy price shocks that will be the most successful, it is the consumers who are the least vulnerable to energy prices whose household bills will be the lowest and who can be the most confident about their future. And yes, it is the countries that prioritize green energy that will secure the biggest share of jobs and growth in a global low-carbon sector set to be worth $4trn by 2015."

"Businesses know that going green can boost growth. Our research shows that supporting the UK's low-carbon economy with the right policies could potentially add £20bn to GDP by 2015. said Rhian Kelly, director for business environment policy at the CBI. "Britain must maximize these opportunities to become the leading destination for low-carbon investment and strengthen our exports of green goods and services to the rest of the world."

This is the kind of leadership that should be a model for heads of state in democracies around the world.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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