If the UK’s government and business can work together to make the most of 27 green growth prizes, they could help boost UK GDP by up to £57bn by 2030. That’s according to a new report from the CBI, which shows that going green isn’t just about benefiting the planet. It also offers a way out of the UK’s current economic gloom. And that would benefit communities up and down the country.
Ask businesses in any region in the UK about green growth, and they’ll all talk about the size of the opportunities on their doorstep, let alone what it could mean for the UK as a whole.
Take the Humber – a region the World Economic Forum has recognised as crucial to delivering net-zero and industrial decarbonisation. It already has expertise in offshore wind, hydrogen and the development of sustainable aviation fuels to build on.
Or Scotland, which was the centre of the world’s efforts to tackle climate change when Glasgow hosted COP26. “We know that Scotland is already an attractive location for world-leading renewables projects,” says Tracy Black, Director, CBI Scotland. “From ScotWind, to the new Green Free Ports at Ross and Cromarty and the Firth of Forth, firms can see the commercial opportunities to invest in developing our green skills base, support new jobs, and build sustainable communities.”
In the North West, there’s ready expertise in hydrogen in Cheshire, in nuclear in Cumbria and wave power in Liverpool. “The region has the research and innovation capabilities to appeal to investors – and a growing local market for sustainable products and services too,” says CBI Regional Director Damian Waters.
The same goes for Wales, which has an abundance of renewable energy resources and established industrial infrastructure, and opportunities through the Celtic Free Ports in Milford Haven and Port Talbot, Anglesey’s Energy Island and the South Wales Industrial Cluster. And in the South West, through exciting initiatives such as Hydrogen South West or offshore wind in the Celtic Sea.
In the Midlands, there are opportunities such as the world’s first commercial fusion plant coming to West Burton. “With the right government support, we need to go further to attract private sector investment in projects such as the Coventry gigafactory to help decarbonise and truly reap the benefits of the green economy,” says CBI Regional Director Richard Blackmore.
And in the East of England, where coast and inland low-lying communities are on the front line of the climate crisis, fellow regional director Richard Tunnicliffe adds: “Local businesses are working flat out to pioneer green technology, renewable energy and net zero transport solutions. Sizewell C in Suffolk will give the UK the nuclear capability to achieve its contribution to slowing the pace of climate change globally and create thousands of local highly skilled jobs. The region’s business community stand ready to move quickly to deliver the much-needed investment required to achieve green growth.”
London too has still more potential to offer. As Anneka Hendrick, Director, CBI London, says: “From finance and transport to skills, the retrofit of commercial buildings and the opportunities offered by the development of sustainable aviation fuels and hydrogen technologies, London is advancing the green agenda. By harnessing the collective power and resources of the public and private sectors, this city can continue to lead the world in sustainable growth.”
And it’s this mix of regional strengths and challenges right across the UK, combined with different natural resources that can be harnessed, which creates such a rich patchwork of opportunities.
With a government that’s tuned in to what makes each opportunity internationally competitive, and focused on joining up the dots on delivery, we have a far greater chance of realising the UK’s potential – and regaining the lead in the global race to the green growth prizes on offer.
Read our recommendations to government on how government can best support the green growth opportunities in our report.