Our Comment: Clean Growth Strategy

Today the UK Government has finally published its required response to meeting the next set of targets within the Climate Change Act. The delays in publication had many commentators worried – did this mean the new Government didn’t have the ambition or ability to drive the change required? Was Brexit a distraction too far? Would this be another signal to investors that the UK could’t offer the certainty of direction they required?

The result is in and….

There has almost been an audible sigh of relief today as the Clean Growth strategy was published. The bbc focused on the implications for energy efficiency for homes, the green alliance noted the radical shift from a decarbonising add on to a clean growth strategy central to delivering the forthcoming UK Industrial Strategy. The Guardian commented the ‘grown-ups had won’ with being green and economically successful being seen as the same thing. There was also questions – this was a strategy instead of a promised plan – so this needed to be translated into action. Also Client Earth and others were not convinced there was enough detail to satisfy the requirements of the Climate Act on how the Government would eventual meet the legal emission reduction targets.

Good to see Government thinking catching up with the West Midlands

As the birthplace of the industrial revolution, the West Midlands has a reputation of leading the way on industrial policy. Not all of this has been successful. However over 10 years ago the region produced the UK’s first low carbon regional economic strategy – aiming to improve productivity and reduce carbon. Subsequently this approach has been reflected in many local initiatives, borrowed by other regions and countries, and reflected in the West Midlands Combined Authority Single Economic Plan. This experience formed the basis of our recent submission on the draft UK Industrial Strategy.

Finally, 10 years later, we are glad the Government has caught up with the West Midlands way of thinking. Future economic growth is low carbon. Improving the environment improves the economy and then if the benefits are shared – our society.

Implications for the West Midlands?

Since 2010, SWM has annually monitored the West Midlands 2020 roadmap , where “by 2020 businesses and communities are thriving in a West Midlands that is environmentally sustainable and socially just.”  This includes progress reports on economic growth and carbon reduction. We will be unveiling the latest results at our annual conference with the West Midlands Mayor on November 28th.

We will also be pulling together a summary response on how this Clean Growth Plan supports our West Midlands 2020 roadmap priorities.

In the meantime enjoy the fact that the foundation for the forthcoming UK industrial strategy is out – and it is a low carbon future, providing much needed certainty for investors within the current policy context. Whatever our future holds outside Europe – it is looking increasingly green.

Dr Simon Slater, on behalf of the SWM team