The Green Economy. It’s a phrase that’s increasingly been on the lips of business leaders and politicians across the country as thought leaders in Britain stake their position on this vital issue.
With the Green Economy set to become a hot issue in 2017, it’s time to consider whether it’s our friend or foe. Read on as we examine the potential impact that it could have on your business.
Although Britain’s existing commitments to arresting climate change have been agreed under the stewardship of the EU, the post-Brexit future does not necessarily mean a step backwards for our green economy. In fact, with the government accepting the advice of the Committee for Climate Change’s (CCC) fifth carbon budget and agreeing to reduce carbon emissions by 57% compared to 1990 levels by 2030, we have actually set ourselves a more ambitious target than the current EU agreement.
But what do these measures mean for British business?
John Cridland, Chairman of the CBI, said in 2015 that “greening the economy and growing the economy can go hand in hand” and praised the internal efforts of the British business community to reduce their own carbon footprints. Mr. Cridland was also critical of government policies regarding emissions in the same speech. But since the new government took power this year, there have been encouraging noises on the subject of the Green Economy from prominent members of the cabinet.
In an address to the Utility Week Energy Summit in July 2016, Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom was firm on her commitment to green energy, as we enter what she called “a period of transition.” Ms. Leadsom noted: “Decarbonising our energy system is not some abstract regulatory requirement, it is an essential responsibility that we hold towards our children and grandchildren, as the only way to effectively counter the threat of climate change.”
Why Does the Green Economy Matter?
A wholesale embrace of the Green Economy could be a major spur for growth in Britain over the coming decades. As environmentally friendly business practices become increasingly important, companies that put in place greener policies will be best placed to take advantage.
In particular, the construction, transport, waste management, and manufacturing sectors can all benefit from the new opportunities provided by a shift to the Green Economy. Added to that, there will be a ripple effect on the services sector that operates in conjunction with these areas of British industry. The Green Economy may also provide new export possibilities for products like solar panels, wind turbines and advanced biofuels.
A move towards greener industry will also have a positive impact on public health and infrastructure costs associated with pollution. We only have to look at the example of Paris - which ground to a halt this month due to unprecedented air pollution levels - to see the real-world impact that carbon emissions have had on one of the world’s greatest cities.
Finally, there are the obvious macro environmental factors which mean the adoption of green business practices is a necessity rather than a choice.
How Can You Make the Green Economy Work for Your Business?
There is no doubt that the transition to the Green Economy will require a concerted effort from the government, private individuals, and businesses. However, we can already begin the move towards it and bring tangible benefits to ourselves as a result.
Here are three simple actions to consider:
1. By reducing energy usage in your own business, you’ll improve your own efficiency and reduce costs. Simple measures like motion-sensitive lighting and remote-controlled thermostats are one place to start. While putting in place a company-wide energy policy is another.
2. By streamlining your own production processes to be greener, you can gain access to the growing market of eco-conscious consumers who prize clean business practices and authentic products - and reward companies with sound environmental policies.
3. And by adopting more efficient business practices such as reducing fuel costs where possible, you can save yourself money while reducing your overall carbon footprint.
While we can take these actions, the government will need to play its part too; by increasing investment in innovative products and businesses, which will maintain our historical status as a world leader in energy-efficient business practices. A struggle may arise between those with an eye on our long-term future and the more immediate impact that the embrace of green policies will have on the average citizen’s pocket. However, from construction to manufacturing to waste management, it’s clear that the Green Economy will be good for businesses.
Will your business be embracing the Green Economy in 2017? Do you feel it’s a friend or foe? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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