The transition to a greener economy is worth £71 billion and has brought jobs and investment to parts of the UK experiencing industrial decline.
These are the main findings of a new report written by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which calculates that the quest for net zero emissions involves more than 20,000 companies.
He adds that about 840,000 jobs are related to sectors ranging from renewable energy to waste management.
Titled Mapping the Net Economy, the report looked at which parts of the UK have benefited most from policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Scottish and English regions such as Tyneside, Teesside, Merseyside and the Humber performed better than average, with the green economy being stronger and contributing more to growth than London and the South East.
Green jobs also pay significantly more, says the report, with the average wage (£42,600) well above the national average (£33,400).
“The net zero economy addresses the problem of raising standards and productivity in the UK,” says Peter Chalkell, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) who carried out the research. “But if the UK does not build on the good work already done, we will lose our jobs and lose our .”
The UK has long been seen as a leader in green technology, particularly offshore wind, but that position is at risk.
“Other places (in the world) are already preparing their stalls for how to attract this investment,” says Tom Thackeray of the CBI who conducted the analysis, adding that there is now “global competition” for green finance.
Analysts say the passage of landmark legislation in the US last year called the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has changed the global dynamic of green investment. Now that America is the best destination for its money.
says Chris Stark, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change, a public body that advises the UK government on its green policies.
The view that the UK is losing momentum was also in the Mission Zero report released by Tory MP Chris Skidmore last month, in which he said the UK was lagging behind in the net zero race.
Restrictive planning regulations for onshore wind and solar power, and a lack of policy consistency were among the many issues Mr Skidmore noted were holding back private investment.
“We really need to speed up the planning and approval of renewables, grid connections and vehicle charging,” says Emma Pinchbeck, chief executive of the British Energy Trade Association. “It takes 12 years to build a wind farm in this country, when it should take one.”
In response to the report and criticism of the policy, a government spokesperson said the UK was leading the world in tackling climate change.
“Our plan will support up to 480,000 jobs by 2030,” they said. “We are driving unprecedented £100bn of investment in the private sector by 2030, supported by around £30bn of funding from the government since March 2021 to deliver on our targets.”