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UK Low Carbon Industrial Strategy

The UK Government launched its Low Carbon Strategy on 6 March mapping the UK’s industrial priorities for taking advantage of the new global low carbon economy.

The low carbon economy is currently estimated to be worth £3 trillion globally, and in the UK it was worth £107 billion in 2007/08 employing 880,000 with expectations of growing by another £45bn and 400,000 respectively, over the next decade.

The Strategy was launched at the Low Carbon Industrial Summit in London. The pamphlet called Low Carbon Industrial Strategy: a Vision was published alongside the event highlighting a range of companies in the UK already taking advantage of low carbon opportunity and setting out the scope and ambitions of the Government’s plans. Interested parties are encouraged to give their input on the interactive website interactive.berr.gov.uk/lowcarbon/ to inform a final Strategy to be published before the summer.

At the meeting, UK Business Secretary Peter Mandelson said: “Low carbon is not a sector of our economy, it is, or will be, our whole economy, and a global market. … A low carbon industrial strategy must seize the opportunities that will come with change. That requires a new industrial activism for a new green industrial revolution.”

UK Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband added: “Moving to a low carbon economy is the way to secure the economic recovery and growth that we need at home and take a lead internationally to protect the future of the planet.”

The Low Carbon Industrial Strategy aims for change in four key areas:

  • Energy efficiency;
  • Energy infrastructure (renewables, nuclear, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and smart grid);
  • UK production of low carbon vehicles;
  • Making UK attractive for low carbon businesses.

UK’s target of cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80% by 2020 has already been written into law, and the first carbon budgets will be announced this year setting out five-year budgets that the Government will be legally bound to stick within.

Miliband referred to Masdar city as an example of what can be done in terms of a low carbon economy: “Anyone who sees that, for example, the United Arab Emirates is investing £15bn in the Masdar carbon-neutral city of 50,000 people at $300,000 a person knows the race is on.”

REA: £625m needed

The UK Renewable Energy Association (REA) called for an immediate spend of £625 million in green stimulus money ahead of the Low Carbon Industrial Summit, as the UK lags behind the rest of Europe on renewable energy.

The REA said a total green energy stimulus package of around £10bn is needed to match the aspirations of other countries and meet recommended investment levels.

REA’s proposals for short-term spending in four key areas:

  • Preparing for decentralised energy. The key proposals include £230m to deliver 70,000 installations over the next two years and 10,000 jobs. With the Low Carbon Building Programme coming to an end in June, REA fears a decline in projects leaving the UK industry in poor condition for the arrival of tariffs next year.
  • Freeing bulk renewable energy and transport. The key proposals include streamlined consent for renewable projects and related infrastructure, Government guarantees for project finance and a £55m package for demonstration heat networks, bioenergy vehicles and ‘green gas’ injection to the grid.
  • Start vital changes to energy infrastructure. The key proposals include smart metering trials, initial development of ‘smart’ grids and revisions to transmission and distribution network regulations to enable the essential strategic planning needed to adapt networks for renewables at all scales. Early action-oriented measures total £165m.
  • Skills, training and awareness. A total of £45m to provide skills training for 10,000 new and re-skilled workers in the energy and building services sector.

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