Why the UK needs nature-positive fiscal rules

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8 February, 2024


The UK isn’t investing nearly enough. Investment has lagged our peer economies over the last two decades and the effects of this neglect can be felt in low productivity and sub-par growth. If we had invested at the average rate for OECD countries, we would have invested half a trillion pounds more than we did – enough to transform our energy system and make us a net energy exporter. If this low investment continues, it will damage our future growth prospects and hamper the path to achieving net zero. We need to raise our game by investing more much in decarbonisation and nature restoration.

A possible obstacle to raising the share of investment in GDP is overly restrictive fiscal rules that operate in a way that discourages investment. We need fiscal rules to curb irresponsible spending by governments, but they should be reformed to make them more flexible and to take account of the importance of nature and the economic damage wrought by climate change. We propose a ‘green golden rule’ to exempt green spending from the normal operation of the rules, and a mandate to operate the rules in a way that increases net wealth.


Steve Coulter, head of economy,

Faustine Wheeler, policy advisor,

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