The UK is struggling to keep up in the “global green race” to develop clean technology and services, an independent thinktank has claimed.
A review by the Green Alliance says that a lack of political leadership is threatening to undermine UK competitiveness in fast-growing international green markets.
The thinktank reviewed the performances of 12 businesses, including international engineering companies, energy firms and cleantech producers.
Its report found that the UK has performed well so far in global green markets, but said that other countries have been more ambitious and efficient. It says that Germany, China and South Korea have all done more than the UK to identifying priority low-carbon technologies for development, and has backed them with long-term financial support.
In particular, the report claims that infighting over policy within the Conservative party is holding the UK’s green sector back.
Matthew Spencer, director of Green Alliance, said, “Cleantech businesses contribute billions to the UK bottom line, but they feel like they are being used as a political football in a broader battle for the soul of the Conservative party.
“Our competitors are raising their game, and Conservative ministers will have to be less equivocal in their commitment to low carbon if they want the UK to remain a leader in global green markets.”
The review argues that the government needs to act to restore confidence in the UK as a low-carbon investment destination by investing in new projects. It also recommends that the government create a £100m public green venture capital fund and encourage the development of new international green markets by campaigning for ambitious targets in the EU 2030 climate package
Earlier this month it was reported that the global cleantech industry employed over half a million people and had a combined market capitalisation of $170 billion (£109 billion) as of April 2013.
The industry has gone through a “challenging period”, due to fiscal issues and the financial crisis, according to Ernst & Young’s global cleantech leader Gil Forer, but the report indicates a growth of 18% from the previous financial year.
Forer added, “The cleantech sector globally has shifted to growth. Resource scarcity, energy security concerns, population growth and increasing consumption, by expanding middle classes in emerging markets, will continue to drive this cleantech market growth.”