Britain and France lead green alliance to boost EU Economy

October 28, 2013 7:16 PM
By Adam Nathan in British Influence

Green Britain and France are working hand in hand on efforts to boost Europe's low-carbon economy in order to tap into a global market expected to be worth more than £4 trillion by 2016 amid fierce competition from emerging economies.

British Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Edward Davey, will address a meeting today of "Green Growth Group" ministers and senior business leaders in Brussels in a bid to step up Europe's global economic competitiveness.

Davey, launching a report called "Going for Green Growth" signed by 13 European Ministers including Germany and France, will say that the EU needs to "get its act together" to urgently agree an ambitious 2030 climate and energy framework in order to stimulate billions of pounds of "green growth".

The 40-page report sets out the economic case for EU low carbon action by revealing that the global low carbon and environmental business market is worth almost £3.5 trillion a year and is expected to grow at over 4% a year to mote than £4 trillion by 2016.

Over the last four years Europe's low carbon market has grown by over 10%, over £70 billion. It has been estimated that if the EU can build and maintain a leading position in clean technology, increased exports could contribute more than £20 billion a year to GDP this decade.

The economic focus on the report, chimes with Prime Minister David Cameron's comments in February of this year that: "We are in a global race and the countries that succeed in that race, the economies in Europe which prosper, will be those that are the greenest and most energy efficient."

The green economy boom of recent years has meant that an estimated 7.8 million Europeans were employed in the EU's low carbon and environmental business sector in 2011 and the European Commission has estimated that up to 6.5 million jobs could be created or retained by 2020 through various green growth measures.

However, the report today warns that while global clean energy investments have grown six-fold since 2004 to nearly £170 billion, the EU share is down from 40% in 2009 to just 25% in 2012. The report implies this is partly because China and America are "aggressively targeting low carbon commerce".

Chinese clean energy investments are now on a par with the EU at £65 billion per year (24% of the global total) and rising rapidly and China will invest more than three quarter of a trillion pounds in its green economy between 2011 and 2015.

Meanwhile, the US global low carbon business market is almost on a par with the EU and almost £500 billion. The US, driven by President Obama's commercially-minded White House, is investing record sums in clean energy and has recently become the world's largest investor in low carbon energy R&D.

The report also warns that "ambitious low carbon competitors" are rapidly emerging, especially in Japan, South Korea and India, while non-G20 country clean energy investments increased by over 50% last year alone.

Davey has been working closely with Philippe Martin, the French Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, on driving forward the EU agenda, which will form part of a global deal on tackling climate change set to be struck in Paris in 2015.

Davey is a key proponent of the need to work with allies in Europe to drive through EU reforms that benefit Britain. While a Minister at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, he set up the so-called "Like Minded Group" of EU ministers, to drive economic growth in the EU and cut back on red tape.

Now the Secretary of State at DECC, Davey has set up a similar grouping behind the report today and dedicated to driving forward a green growth agenda designed to benefit Europe's low-carbon technology and services sector.

Ministerial members of the EU Green Growth Group (GGG) set up by Davey include the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Slovenia and Estonia.

Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Director 
of the Prince of Wales's EU Corporate Leaders Group, who will sum up at the GGG summit in Brussels today, said: "We will build on today's momentum by further demonstrating how green growth can tackle increasing energy prices, create new jobs and bring added prosperity to Europe."

Adam Nathan is Deputy Director of British Influence and Director of the Our Biggest Market campaign.