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Plans for a cleaner, healthier Britain pose great opportunities for UK SMEs

Achieving clean growth, whilst ensuring an affordable energy supply for businesses is at the heart of the UK’s Industrial Strategy. In 2017, the Government introduced their Clean Growth Strategy, aiming to deliver increased economic growth and decreased emissions. In order to meet these objectives, the UK will need to nurture low carbon technologies, processes and systems that are as low-cost as possible. This approach will maintain that of the Industrial Strategy: building on the UK’s strengths, improving productivity and ensuring the UK is the best place for innovators and new businesses to start-up and grow.  

The Climate Change Act 2008 set an ambitious target for Britain: that by 2050, emissions of greenhouse gases would be 80% lower than in 1990. Since then, the Government has introduced plans such as the joint government-industry Offshore Wind Sector Deal, which aims to have a third of Britain’s electricity being produced by offshore wind by 2030, with more than £40bn of investment into the offshore wind sector. Former Chancellor Philip Hammond also introduced measures to phase out fossil-fuel heaters in new-build homes by 2025, in his March 2019 Spring Statement. Most recently, former Prime Minister Theresa May, ensured by law a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, making Britain the first economy to do so.

Although the individual environmental footprint of SMEs may be low, they make up 99% of all businesses in the UK, so their combined impact is considerable. There are many advantages for businesses that choose to go green. Including, saving on utility costs, environmental taxes, reliefs and schemes as well as enhanced brand reputation. 

In September 2019, Ministers announced over £500 million of new investment into green technologies, followed by The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announcing an additional investment of £142million, including innovative research into removing greenhouse gasses from the air. Several government projects will benefit from this cash injection.

Continuing to drive down carbon emissions from UK businesses could provide a real national economic boost. The UK low carbon economy could grow by an estimated 11% per year between 2015 and 2030 – four times faster than the rest of the economy.1

Plans for a cleaner and healthier Britain pose great opportunities for small and medium sized businesses. These plans raise the ambition of the Government’s previous target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80%, requiring big changes in the way businesses use energy and adopt new technologies to support decarbonisation. Government’s Clean Growth Strategy, if done right, will not just deliver lower emissions, but cleaner air, lower energy bills, an enhanced natural environment and innovative industrial opportunities. The UK’s early action on clean growth means that SMEs in industries such as low carbon, scientific research and design and manufacturing of leading-edge technology have been able to excel. Clean growth is playing a huge part in the UK’s Industrial Strategy, building on our strengths to drive economic growth and boost earning power across the county.