UK losing £4.3bn in green growth to European rivals, CBI warns

24th January 2023

The UK has lost significant market share in green technology to European competitors over the last two years, which will be worth £4.3bn by 2030.

That is according to the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) director general, Tony Danker, who warned this week that the UK is “falling behind rapidly” on green growth, and that other countries are “outspending and outsmarting us”.

In a speech at University College London, he highlighted how the UK is set to miss out on around £3bn in electric vehicle (EV) assembly and battery production by 2030, as well as £1.3bn in hydrogen electrolysers.

“Our international competitors in Europe, Asia and the US are going hell for leather on green growth and getting firms investing,” he continued. “We are behind them now and seem to be hoping for the best.

“We’re behind the Germans on heat pumps, insulation and building retrofits, the French on EV charging infrastructure, and the US on operational carbon capture and storage projects – despite the UK’s North Sea advantage.”

Danker urged the UK government to apply market-making mechanisms such as the Contracts for Difference to hydrogen, carbon capture and sustainable aviation fuels, and to use regulation to stimulate domestic demand for green technologies, as has been done with EVs.

In the wide-ranging speech, he also highlighted how the UK is set to fall from 5th to 30th place in the OECD table on tax competitiveness in April if a super-deduction for companies that invest in Britain is not replaced, and called for a bolder approach to tackling labour and skills shortages.

“We believe the UK could lead the world on green growth as we did in setting net-zero targets, but we’re on the verge of being relegated from the Champions League by the Americans and the Europeans,” he continued.

“Not only are they spending money, they’re abandoning regulatory barriers including state aid to win the prize! That’s a lesson for us on what it means to go big.”

This comes after report from Arup and Oxford Economic earlier this month suggested that new green industries could be worth more than £8.2trn to the global economy by 2050, which would be equivalent to over 5% of the world’s GDP that year.

It identifies the direct contribution to GDP of electric vehicles manufacturing, renewable power generation, clean energy equipment manufacturing, renewable fuels and green finance, and also highlights substantial productivity benefits from the green transition.

Commenting on the findings, IEMA’s Deputy CEO, Martin Baxter, said: “This report demonstrates the huge financial benefit that green industries can offer the global economy, and underlines the crucial need for governments and organisations to invest in green skills and training.

“Every job must be greener if we are to tackle the climate and environmental emergency. Our recently launched Green Careers Hub will help anyone – from any sector or background – understand how they can play a role in the wider green economy.”

Image credit: Unsplash

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