Clean Growth Strategy: What does it mean for businesses?

The long-awaited Clean Growth Strategy has been released on 12 October, and sets out ambitious plans by the UK Government on how to accelerate clean growth, and meet national climate goals and the fifth carbon budget.

The 165-page document covers policies and proposals ranging from green finance, building energy efficiency, low carbon heating, electric vehicles and renewable technology. Having green growth at the centre of an industrial strategy aims to boost the economy and productivity across the country, whilst protecting the climate and environment for a sustainable future.

First scheduled for release in 2016, the EU referendum vote and the 2017 General Election meant the plan was published ten months after expected. It changed its name from  Emissions Reduction Plan to Clean Growth Plan, and finally to Clean Growth Strategy. But does it meet the expectations of growing the nation as a low carbon economy, and what exactly does it mean for businesses?

Business and Industry make up 25% of all UK emissions, and the plan looks to “develop a package of measures to support businesses to improve their energy productivity, by at least 20%by 2030”. Here is an overview of a few of the measures aimed to benefit the productivity of businesses in the UK.

Energy efficiency

The plan states that the Government is determined to unlocking potential energy savings for businesses, to improve their productivity and competitiveness. Their analysis has shown that through investment in cost-effective energy efficiency technologies, up to £6 billion could be saved in 2030. They aim to do this by improving the energy efficiency of new and existing commercial buildings and simplifying the requirements to measure and report on energy use to help identify where to reduce the cost of energy bills. They will build on existing schemes such as the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), and consult on new reporting frameworks to replace others.

The ambitious Industrial Energy Efficiency scheme will look to help large companies install measures to cut their energy use and bills, including decarbonisation road maps for seven industries that are operationally carbon intensive, such as chemicals, paper and pulp, farming, and food and drink. New technologies such as carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) and switching to low carbon fuels such as sustainable biomass will be required by industry to meet carbon reduction targets, with Government providing the framework for doing so.

Low-carbon transport

Transport makes up 24% of UK emissions, and to meet targets, “almost every car and van will need to be zero emission by 2050”. An Automotive Sector Deal will be developed in collaboration with Government and industry to increase the uptake of zero-emission vehicles, and to ensure a continuing thriving automotive sector. The plan boldly aspires for the UK to be one of the best electric vehicle (EV) charging networks in the world. This means that workplaces will have additional charging support.

Business and their supply chains will be reviewed to find more cost-effective options for shifting more freight from road to rail. Urban areas will be addressed to include low emission rail freight for deliveries, with zero emission last mile deliveries and reduced Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) journeys to deliver significant fuel and emissions savings.

Natural resources

As negotiations continue following the vote to leave the EU, improving our natural environment and delivering better outcomes means land and agriculture have a significant role to play. The future of farming will be supported by Government through a new agri-environment system, maximising the value extracted from resources and ensuring minimal negative impacts. £99 million will be invested in new research and technology, focusing on agri-tech, land use, greenhouse gas removal technologies, waste and resource efficiency.

A new Resources and Waste Strategy will be published to position the UK as a world leader for competitiveness, resource productivity and resource efficiency, with an ambitious goal to transition to zero avoidable waste by 2050. Government will also launch a “Green Great Britain”, working with businesses and civil society week to promote clean growth.

Innovation

The plan states that £162 million of public funds will be invested in research and innovation in Energy, Resource and Process efficiency. This includes driving down the cost of new technologies and increasing the commercial viability of them. £14 million of further investment will be made to the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund to support innovative energy technologies and processes, to boost competitiveness, improve job growth and promote new technologies in low-carbon businesses and supply chains.

The Clean Growth Strategy has shown the Government’s ambitious plans and policies to grow a low carbon economy in the UK. As we wait to see whether this bold vision lives up to expectations, businesses are already on track to meeting these goals with sustainability at the heart of many core strategies.