Lord Mandelson spells out his low carbon vision

by GreenWire.org.uk. Published Fri 05 Jun 2009 10:17
Business Secretary spells out his low carbon plans
Business Secretary spells out his low carbon plans

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has set out his ambition for a low carbon economy, which he believes will help fix the UK's crumbling political system.

The Cabinet minister says politicians need to start delivering on positive ideas, such as climate change, if they are to regain the trust and confidence of the public.

And he says the key to achieving success is by adopting three basic principles for a positive environment for low carbon business.

They include a long-term strategic approach from government, a pragmatic approach to the role of both markets and the state and a recognition that the country should be actively equipped to supply the demand created by climate change targets.

Speaking at a policy network event at the London School of Economics, Lord Mandelson said the UK was entering a precarious time for mainstream politics, and added: “Cynicism and scepticism about politicians and politics in the UK is obviously pretty high. We badly need a core of positive ideas about the future in this country and for me climate change is at the heart of that.”

“People often find the scale of the challenge overwhelming. So somehow we have to go from awareness to engagement, rather than awareness to resignation. The only way to do this is to stress that at the levels of individual choices, business choices and national economic choices, the shift to low carbon offers economic opportunities as well as costs.

“In energy savings or trade, the global market for low carbon goods and services is already worth around £3trillion a year, and will probably grow by half that again by 2015.

“Almost 900,000 people already work in the sector or its supply chain in the UK, not just in green manufacturing but in green services like consultancy or low carbon venture capital. The sector is projected to maintain positive growth rates, even through the downturn. We are in a strong position to be a global first mover.”

Lord Mandelson says the government will deliver a framework to shape a positive business environment for low carbon goods and services this summer with the publication of their Low Carbon Industrial Strategy in the summer.

He added: “I believe government has a responsibility to ensure that UK-based companies are equipped to compete for the new demand created by government climate change policies.

“Green politics sometimes presents business as the enemy of climate policy. For as long as business resists long term change then that will be the case. But low carbon business, and 'low carbon consumers' can also be a major positive driver of change.

“Mainstream climate change politics obviously can't be totally anti-politics, anti-business and anti-growth. We can't just throw green slime at the problem. It will however mean a different approach to politics, business and growth. Mainstream green politics needs to inherit the passion and urgency of green politics, if not all of the inflexibility.

“And it has to be positive, it has to be about opportunities. Of course business models are going to have to change and there will be costs. But negative incentives for change can only be half the story.”

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