Driving growth is at the centre of the current political debate. The UK has long flatlined in productivity, wages and therefore GDP which has undermined our resilience and ability to deal with external shocks like the current energy price crisis.
Robust and long term growth is needed and can only come from action on climate and the environment. Research and innovation will be central to boosting productivity and reaching net zero.
Our innovation work takes the form of three projects. These projects look at how green innovation can help achieve economic and environmental goals, the role green skills can play in addressing regional inequalities and the importance of the Green Innovation Policy Commission’s recommendations.
Climate for growth
The economy is facing significant headwinds from low growth and high inflation. Productivity has stagnated leading to suppressed wages and progress is being held back by economic, political, and regulatory obstacles.
The government has pledged to make the UK a ‘science superpower’ and to level up the nation as well as committing to climate and nature goals. Currently, these environmental goals are seen as strands of research and innovation. However, given the centrality of the transition to the future of our economy, and the reliance on innovation to deliver net zero and nature recovery they need to be far more central.
In 2022, we highlighted the role of green research and innovation spending when it comes to achieving economic and levelling up objectives. By demonstrating the national and regional economic outcomes from green innovation projects across the UK we set out recommendations on cross-cutting green innovation policies including skills, business investment and digitalisation.
Climate change is all bad for the economy, but climate change policies are not.
As the cost of living crisis bites, the government is looking at what action it can take. This report indicates how driving forward the net zero carbon economy can help to reverse the UK’s flagging productivity, contribute to economic growth and provide skilled jobs.
This report, written in collaboration with the innovation agency Nesta, classifies 14 areas of green economic policy, including action on energy, buildings and transport, assessing what the direct impact of each will be on productivity. We find that half of the areas we analysed have outright, no regret positive impacts and a further four could have positive impacts with the right government intervention.
This indicates that, far from being a beneficiary of growth, the green economy should be classed as a central driver right at the heart of the Treasury’s growth plan. We conclude that the government should ramp up its climate policies now to benefit individuals and communities across the country struggling with the serious consequences of the economic downturn.
Accelerating the transition to a low carbon power system can help to reduce the cost of living, improve energy security and support the government’s levelling up agenda.
This report maps out how low carbon energy, including onshore and offshore wind, solar, nuclear and hydrogen have the capacity to create thousands of secure and skilled jobs across the country and where those jobs will be.
The UK faces acute skills shortages across the sectors it most urgently needs to decarbonise. Our study of the future needs of a greener economy finds that a targeted green skills programme would speed up action to both reach net zero and address regional inequalities.
Training up the workforce will enable government to marry its environmental aims with its economic and social ambitions.
The UK is facing acute skills shortages across the sectors it most urgently needs to decarbonise. By looking at the needs of the future green economy, we find that the government can deliver on both its net zero and levelling up agendas by developing a new green skills programme.
The programme envisaged will include practical measures for industry, such as a ‘super skills deduction’ for people as well as machinery, and support for individuals via loans and grants to reduce the risk of retraining. These and other measures will build a workforce fit for the 2030s, filling good quality jobs across the country.
Catch22 commissioned Green Alliance to explore the accessibility of entry-level green jobs and training pathways for disadvantaged groups.
The report makes three recommendations around developing awareness, finding training and securing employment.
Public First conducted ten focus groups for Green Alliance to work out what prospective applicants think about the sorts of jobs that might become available as the green economy develops.
Green Innovation Policy Commission
The Green Innovation Policy Commission (GIPC) is a business-led consortium set up and supported by Green Alliance and University College London (UCL) – specifically the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources and UCL Public Policy team. It brings together progressive businesses and leading academics to identify how policy can best support green innovation across the UK economy and reward the innovators, entrepreneurs and investors who generate value from the solutions to the global environmental challenges.
Over its two-year programme, the GIPC set out to:
- Identify green innovation priorities across the UK economy, with a particular focus on hard-to-reach sectors, including road freight, buildings, heavy industry and food;
- Inject new thinking on how policy can most effectively promote and support green innovation;
- Create a new public dialogue between policymakers, academics, and business leaders on the challenges and opportunities around economic growth directed at green innovation.
Published in 2020, the GIPC’s final report detailed the results of its investigation, including sectoral analyses and advice to government and business.
We published a summary of the GIPC’s recommendations to policymakers.
The findings and recommendations in this report are the result of joint work and deliberation by the Commissioners and wider business stakeholders.
The role of businesses in this conversation is crucial, so often the objects of policy, but rarely its co-creators. The GIPC is unique in being led and informed by the challenges faced on the ground by businesses that are on a decarbonisation journey.
Green innovation will be vital to speed up action on climate change and build a more resilient economy for the future.
This report summarises the commission’s conclusions and messages to policymakers.