by Freddy Rogers
On 12th January, the Green Alliance – an independent think tank working with leaders in business, politics and civic society to accelerate political action on green issues – published an open letter, pressing the British government to address climate change with the same urgency as Covid vaccine development. Informed by academics and experts in collaboration with UK businesses, the report makes it abundantly clear that green innovation must be the key driver in the UK’s future economic development.
Although they welcome the green economic recovery and industrial revolution, business leaders call for low carbon solutions to be ‘replicated and turbocharged’. To translate this ambition into reality, they call for a six pillar programme, based on the recommendations of a report conducted by the Green Innovation Policy Commission (GIPC).
These are all suggestions that will help the UK in its transition to Net Zero.
Currently, the British Government does not allocate enough capital where it is needed most: namely, in young innovative businesses fighting climate change. The establishment of a National Innovation Fund and the nurturing of innovation by assessing the skills and capability we have in the UK, would go some way towards accelerating the green industrial revolution.
The UK is already among the world’s innovation superpowers, ranking fourth on The Global Innovation Index, which compares 130 economies based on 80 indicators. It’s vital that we use this strength in innovation in the fight against climate change.
Although the UK has rapidly decarbonised its power sector through the implementation of low carbon electricity technologies (75% of emissions reductions since 2012 have come from the power sector - Reducing UK emissions: 2018 Progress Report to Parliament), we still need significant investment in other areas of innovation. Most industries are making little progress on decarbonisation.
Successful innovation policy cannot rely on R&D funding alone to reverse the impact of climate change. In the last three years, we have seen the creation of a new industrial strategy white paper (Industrial Strategy: building a Britain fit for the future), an R&D roadmap (The UK Government UK Research and Development Roadmap), and the relaunch of an innovation funding agency (Innovate UK). While these are hugely beneficial for the development of early stage innovation and novel technologies, those businesses close to market must also be supported.
Harnessing the UK’s innovative capabilities will stimulate future economic growth, strengthen the UK’s global leadership in emerging industries, cut timescales for enhanced technology diffusion and ultimately ease the transition to a low carbon economy by lowering costs.
In November, Boris Johnson outlined in his Ten Point Plan a commitment of £12 billion to mobilise the UK push towards net-zero emissions. Green Angel Syndicate would like to see a significant proportion of this funding committed to developing grassroots innovative technology and to fostering a more dynamic, incentivised investment environment for young businesses to thrive in.
Green Angel Syndicate calls for a more centralised, dynamic and progressive Government approach to grassroots innovation. While we may be the first major economy to embrace the Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050 target, let us hope we can deliver on this promise.
Less rhetoric, more action.
Freddy Rogers is a Graduate Intern with Green Angel Syndicate, the only angel investment syndicate in the UK specialising in the fight against Climate Change and Global Warming. For regular updates follow Green Angel Syndicate on LinkedIn and Twitter.