Low-carbon sector bucks economic trend

19th June 2012

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Sales of UK low-carbon environmental goods and services (LCEGS) grew 4.7% between 2009/10 and 2010/11, far outstripping the economy overall, which increased just 0.7%

The figures from the business department (BIS) reveal that UK sales of LCEGS totalled £122.2 billion in 2010/11, a £5.4 billion increase on the previous year, and had the second highest growth rate among the top 10 LCEGS-supplying countries.

They also show a slight rise in the number of LCEGS companies in the UK, and an increase in the number of people employed in the sector.

The data highlight a positive balance between exports and imports of LCEGS. BIS reports that in 2010/11, the UK imported LCEGS worth £6.8 billion, while sales of exported goods and services totalled £11.8 billion.

The growth in sales in 2010/11 follows an 8.6% rise over the previous two years.

The performance places the UK sixth in the global LCEGS league table by value.

Evidence of the success of the LCEGS sector in the UK came as the environmental audit committee warned that the government’s deregulation agenda risked stalling the growth of a green economy.

Green investment should play a key role in the UK’s economic recovery, but the Treasury still appears to see environmental measures as a cost or block to economic development, says the committee.

It also criticised the coalition’s roadmap, Enabling the transition to a green economy, saying that it failed to set out a new, comprehensive or strategic approach with targets to assess progress.

The MPs say that the market-led approach being adopted by the government is too focused on voluntary action, and that relying on consumer demand to stimulate the green economy will not work.

One recommendation from the committee is for the government to develop indicators that go beyond traditional economic indicators, such as gross domestic product (GDP), and capture the state of the environment, social fairness and wellbeing.

The World Bank has also urged governments to measure not only what is being produced, through measures of GDP, but also what is being used up and polluted in the process.

In a new report, the bank asserts that assigning value to farmland, minerals, rivers, oceans, forests and biodiversity, and awarding property rights, will offer governments, industry and individuals sufficient incentive to manage them in an efficient, inclusive and sustainable manner.

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