How can the UK capture economic growth opportunities from the shift to net zero? Alok Sharma, secretary of state at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy addressed that question at a round table last week and has invited other organisations to provide written comment.
The secretary of state called for input in a speech delivered at a London Stock Exchange webinar, in which he cited former Bank of England governor Mark Carney’s warning that “If some companies fail to adjust to a net zero world, they will fail to exist”.
Sharma said, “The risks are clear, but actually the opportunities are clearer yet”. Listing industries such as offshore wind, CCS and the green supply chain, he said that “recovering from this pandemic makes these projects more necessary and more important than ever.” He called on the private finance sector to respond, saying that it was the most important of five key areas needing ‘particular attention – which also included clean energy and transport, nature based solutions and adaptation and resilience – because it made the others possible.
Sharma added that the UK’s aim “is to ramp up ambition towards a climate-resilient, zero-carbon economy” in moving towards COP26 in November 2021.
The questions addressed at the ‘net zero’ round table included:
- which areas of infrastructure investment should we prioritise for early action to drive economic recovery and support delivery of net zero and our broader environmental objectives?
- what action should we take to align investment in the UK and globally with net zero and to protect natural capital?
- what are the key regulatory barriers weakening incentives to invest in net zero, and how do we address them?
- how can we more effectively support businesses across the economy in acting to access growing low carbon markets and support delivery of net zero? (e.g. innovation support, advice, regulatory barriers)
- how can we help the UK’s carbon intensive sectors to transition to low/zero emissions while maintaining competitiveness?
- what actions should we take to ensure local and regional economies can effectively contribute to the net zero target?
The ‘net zero’ round table was one of five chaired by the secretary of state. The others considered
- How to accelerate business innovation and leverage private sector investment in research and development.
- How to win and retain more high value investment for the UK
- How to level up economic performance across the UK, including through skills and apprenticeships
- How to make the UK the best place in the world to start and scale a business.
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