The UK government must massively increase its investment in low-carbon technologies if it wants the county to meet its climate change goals, according to business leaders.
In a report, the Confederation of British Industries (CBI) argues that there is a “lack of ambition in the UK” for the new technology and that an increased focus is crucial for the country to reduce carbon emissions by the target of 80 per cent by 2050.
“It will take a coordinated effort from government and business to ensure the UK is ready to exploit the potential of a low-carbon economy,” said Neil Bentley, business environment director at the CBI.
The government spends less than £250m annually on low-carbon energy research. The CBI argues that this figure should be closer to the defence budget of £2.6bn.
“With increasing globalisation, the UK has an opportunity to enter and lead in new markets estimated at $1 trillion. However, there is currently a general lack of ambition and vision on how to achieve this. The UK needs to act now if it is to be a low-carbon leader.”
The CBI’s report recommends that government departments responsible for science and innovation should work closer together with those responsible for climate change and energy to establish green technologies as a national research priority.
In the longer term, research and development should focus on groups of technologies rather than picking on individual projects: these groups could include alternative fuels, energy storage, marine power and vehicle technology.
Friends of the Earth’s climate campaigner, Robin Webster, agreed that spending on research and development for low-carbon technology must increase. “Boosting renewable energy and cutting energy waste will create exciting new business opportunities and new green-collar jobs – as well as helping tackle climate change. The economic and environmental potential is enormous. We could be a world leader in developing green energy – Britain is the windiest country in Europe and has the continent’s best wave and tidal resource.”