To effectively engage with many MPs, often it is important to understand the economic benefits of the growth of the green economy. The UK’s Low Carbon Industrial Strategy (HM Government, 2009) highlights the opportunities for the British low carbon market to grow. In 2008, the global market for low carbon goods and services was already worth £3 trillion and has been increasing year on year.
This page will provide insight into some of the areas you can discuss with your MP if they have a particular interest in creating a low-carbon economy alongside economic growth. It will cover the areas of buildings, electric vehicles and renewable energy.
Higher summer temperatures in the UK will lead to a significant increase in the demand for air conditioning (UK Climate Impacts Programme, 2001). The UK faces a danger that responses to climate change will include becoming more reliant on air conditioning, which will further increase energy demand and CO2 emissions. In order to combat higher summer temperatures as well as creating warmer homes for the winter whilst reducing energy demand, the Government can concentrate on two ways of improving housing efficiency while creating more investment and green jobs:
Buildings in the UK are responsible for 37% of greenhouse gas emissions (Committee on Climate Change, 2014). In order to truly combat this problem, new environmental standards for new builds must be set (see below). However, upgrading - or retrofitting - existing buildings also offers huge potential.
Cambridge Econometrics conducted research into retrofitting potential in the UK. They found that insulating 6 million homes by 2025 would:
- Create 108,000 jobs spread over every region in the UK. This means more money will be put back into local economies, as residents will save money through a reduction in energy bills being put into other local spending instead.
- Provide a threefold increase in GDP for every pound spent.
- Return £1.20 directly to the Treasury for every £1 the government invests.
- The scheme will have paid for itself by 2024.
- £8.61 billion per annum in total energy bill savings across housing stock.
- A more resilient economy which is less reliant on fossil fuels so therefore less at risk to sudden changes in fuel prices.
- Improved air quality and warmer, more comfortable homes will improve health, reducing healthcare expenditure. According to recent evidence, for every £1 spent on reducing fuel poverty, a return of 42 pence can been seen in NHS savings.
Ian Hutchcroft, the head of local delivery at the Energy Saving Trust also reminds us that: “Cold homes have a real health impact, which has a real financial impact on the public sector.” See our resource on cold homes and health here.
There is often a common opinion that building an environmentally friendly home comes with a premium price. This is simply not the case, with people all over the world proving that Eco Homes don’t have to come with a higher price tag. Hope for the Future’s Campaign Researcher, Laura, visited the home of architect Colin Usher, who had become so frustrated with his clients asking for homes to be built to low efficiency standards, despite much of the population now being aware of climate change. Colin was able to demonstrate that building a house that meets environmental efficiency standards can cost the same or even less than a house built to low efficiency standards. Furthermore, the residents will have incredible savings on their utility bills. With bills of just £15 a year and falling, this beautiful house (right) shows us that breaking convention doesn’t have to change our everyday living practices drastically. We can still have beautiful homes, with extremely low energy demand, built at an affordable cost. The UK has the chance to lead the way in this sector. You can read a short news report on Colin’s Eco Home here.
Economic benefits of more efficient eco homes include:
- Water and energy efficiency
- Lower building material cost
- Less maintenance
- Higher property value
- Tax incentives and benefits
A UK motorist can now choose from about 40 electric vehicle (EV) models and at the beginning of 2017 there were over 63,000 electric vehicles on UK roads. The UK is a member of the Zero Emission Vehicle Alliance and has signed a commitment to make all passenger vehicles sold “zero-emissions” by 2050.
The Government currently grants £4,500 towards the cost of a standard EV and £500 towards the cost of a charging point, as well as providing tax breaks and possible savings of around £100 per 1,000 miles driven compared to a petrol or diesel car. Because of these financial incentives, electric vehicles are fast becoming attractive, including to many businesses for their commercial fleets. If a business is seen to be working towards an environmentally friendly vehicle fleet, this can bolster the image of the brand.
At the end of 2016 Europe was exporting approximately €525 million each day for oil. With the renewables on the rise (see next section), an increasing amount of electricity is generated locally or regionally, for example on the roof of our homes through solar panels. So, rather than sending vast amounts of money to oil exporting countries, consumers would be sending their money to national or regional utilities, regional power plant owners, community solar and wind farms, keeping the money within the country.
The World Energy Outlook (2010) states that the proportion of renewable energy is growing but as a proportion of total supply it is still relatively small. In the EU, fossil fuels account for four-fifths of gross inland energy consumption (International Energy Agency). The growth of the renewable sector is essential. Diversity in energy supply reduces the risk of price volatility and encourages efficiency by increasing competition in the sector.
The Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) conducted a study on the economics of renewable energy in the UK with really promising outcomes. Renewable energy schemes also have wider benefits as they create jobs in installation, management, and long term maintenance of such projects, so large scale projects can have real benefits for local communities.
Swansea Bay tidal lagoon is set to be the world’s first tidal lagoon power plant. With the lagoon set to see 236,000 tonnes of carbon savings each year that the lagoon is in operation, it is also set to have huge financial benefits:
- 2,232 construction and manufacturing jobs will be directly sustained by the build.
- The project is expected to contribute £316 million in Gross Value Added to the Welsh economy during construction, then £76 million in each of its 120 years of operation.
- The tidal lagoon is to become a major tourist attraction, with around 100,000 visitors per year, generating trade for local businesses.
- British made turbine technology will be at the heart of the project; 2 new manufacturing facilities will be built in Wales.
- The Welsh and UK industry has the opportunity to secure a primary position in the global tidal lagoon sector, leading the way in tidal energy.
You can read more about the plans for Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, what a tidal lagoon is and other planned projects in the UK at our information page here.
Solar energy is becoming cheaper and more accessible. In Britain, the potential is large. The Centre for Economics and Business Research found that if 20GW of large-scale solar is built by 2030, this subsector of the solar market alone (not including the roof top market) can add more than £25 billion cumulatively to the output of the UK economy.
The above APSE Report also found that
- For every £1 investment in solar PV panels, this yielded an average of £2.90 in cashable benefits, which is almost a three-fold return on their investment.
- Renewable energy can save money on our fuel bills, help generate income for the UK as well as reducing carbon emissions; the report showed that solar panels save on average 650 tonnes in carbon emissions per year or approximately 16,300 tonnes over the average 25 years lifecycle of such a scheme.
Asking your MP to support climate policy
- Ask your MP to support the The Energy Bill Revolution, which is calling for all low income homes to be given measures, by 2025, to bring them up to Band C on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC),and for all other households to be offered 0% interest loans to improve them to an equivalent EPC standard by 2035.
- Ask your MP to exempt solar energy from business tax rates.