On 6 March, Gordon Brown spoke at the Royal Society in London to launch the Low Carbon Industrial Strategy which he said would "help us build tomorrow's green economy today". A report, commissioned by BERR, was released in conjunction with the strategy: Low Carbon and Environmental Goods and Services: an Industry Analysis.

KEY POINTS

Energy Efficiency

Acknowledging the economic down turn and restricted availability of credit, the strategy aims to explore how the Government can work together with business to encourage the investment into energy efficiency measures, making the shift 'easier and quicker'.

Carbon capture and storage and renewable energy

The strategy highlights that the Government is 'determined to drive forward demonstrations for carbon capture and storage to clean up how we use coal' and states that they have 'put in place [measures] for a massive expansion of renewable electricity'. The strategy invites 'industry leaders to voice their opinions and share their expertise…so these changes can truly benefit the UK economy and equip British companies to compete for similar clean energy business overseas.'

Low carbon vehicles

The Government has created a £350m package to help Britain make the shift to low carbon vehicles. The strategy states that in tandem, 'we need to act to make the UK the best place in the world to demonstrate, develop or manufacture low carbon vehicles or their components.' They do acknowledge, however, that 'it will mean a more coherent approach from Government in how we sponsor research, promote innovation and attract manufacturing'.

COMMENT

"Low carbon is not a sector of our economy, it is, or will be, our whole economy, and a global market," said the Business Secretary, Peter Mandelson, at the launch.

Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, emphasised developing "the energy infrastructure for the UK's low carbon future - in renewables, nuclear, Carbon Capture and Storage and a 'smart' grid."

The Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA) has welcomed the launch. However it says it is disappointed that the vision delivers no further detail on policy or funding for Carbon Capture and Storage.

"[...] the Government risks further delays by another round of consultations with industry and we urgently need the final Low Carbon Industrial Strategy to bring decisive action and policy to support new low carbon technologies, especially CCS," said Jeff Chapman, Chief Executive of the CCSA.

"Industry stands ready to deliver on CCS and as 2009 is a critical year in terms of tackling climate change and building green jobs, the Government needs to move quickly to ensure CCS can fulfil its climate change potential as well as delivering prosperity and jobs," he continued.

CBI director general, Richard Lambert, emphasised at the strategy launch that the UK must “show a greater sense of urgency” to grasp the opportunities ahead, whilst the Environment Industries Commission chief executive, Adrian Wilkes, pointed to the Budget in April as “the first opportunity the Government has to act”.

GOING FORWARDS

Alongside the promotion of the strategy, a website has been launched: ‘Low Carbon Industrial Strategy: a Vision’ setting out the scope and ambition of the Government’s plans. Businesses and others with an interest are asked for their input to inform a final strategy to be published in the summer.