Today (2 March), the Aldersgate Group releases a new report, Fostering Prosperity, which suggests that ambitious and well-designed environmental regulations have a ‘track record’ of delivering significant economic and environmental benefits.
The report, written by global design engineering consultancy Buro Happold, highlights that the business community sees ambitious environmental regulation as a key driver to aid the UK’s economic recovery and achieve its net zero emissions target and other environmental ambitions.
The Aldersgate Group calls on Government to recognise the value and importance of ambitious environmental regulations as part of its ongoing regulatory review.
With significant reform to waste and resources policy underway, our sector is expected to play a central role in delivering both a green recovery and a transition to a more circular economy.
The report is based on a review of specific environmental regulations in the construction, waste and automotive sectors and interviews with 20 business leaders and practitioners. It finds that the regulations studied in these sectors have delivered growing business investment in innovation, new products and services, job creation and skills.
For example, the London Plan, which establishes requirements for improving the sustainability of housing developments in London, has supported over £100 million worth of investment in heat networks, solar PV installation and carbon offsets in 2018 alone.
The Landfill Tax has been a net positive job creator for the waste sector and transitioning towards a more resource efficient economy could create a further 500,000 jobs. In the automotive sector, the transition to electric vehicles could generate around £3 billion of private investment and 30,000 new jobs by 2030.
‘Strong business support’
Interviews carried out as part of the report show strong business support for ambitious, forward-looking, well joined-up and properly enforced environmental regulations, policies and market mechanisms. These are seen as essential to drive business investment in low carbon goods and services, which will support the UK’s economic recovery and put the UK on track to meet its net zero emissions target and the ambitions set out in the Environment Bill and Resources and Waste Strategy.
Dr Adam Read, CIWM’s Vice President and External Affairs Director at SUEZ, said: “Regulation has been key to driving innovation and investment in the waste sector for many years. With significant reform to waste and resources policy underway, our sector is expected to play a central role in delivering both a green recovery and a transition to a more circular economy.
“Appropriate and consistent regulation will ensure emerging policies fulfill their potential. A more integrated approach to policy setting and regulation will promote the investment and innovation needed to deliver the economic and environmental benefits of a resource efficient economy and drive decarbonisation in other sectors.”
Key recommendations include:
- The UK government’s ongoing regulatory review must recognise the important economic benefits of well-designed and ambitious environmental regulationsand the central role they will need to play to put the UK on track for its climate and environmental targets.
- To support business investment, good environmental regulation should be forward-looking, with clear and ambitious targets that tighten over time.
- Environmental regulations and standards must not sit in a silo. To be economically and environmentally effective, environmental regulations should be carefully joined-up across sectorsand with the UK’s overall industrial strategy. They should promote high degrees of resource efficiency and be accompanied by investment in supporting infrastructure (such as charging infrastructure for electric vehicles), research and development, skills and market access.
- Environmental and low carbon policy should shift away from a culture of compliance and towards one of high environmental performance, promoting investment, upskilling and the sharing of resources.
- Environmental regulations are only effective in shifting corporate behaviour and driving business investment if they are robustly and fairly enforced. Going forward, the role of regulators and local authorities should be enhanced, not diluted, with funding put in place to allow them to robustly enforce standards despite pressure on public finances.
‘Drivers of innovation’
Nick Molho, Executive Director, Aldersgate Group, said: “We urge the Government’s Taskforce on Regulatory Reform to look at environmental regulations not as red tape, but instead as drivers of innovation, job creation and skills. If the UK is to have a durable economic recovery and put itself on a credible pathway to build a thriving net zero emissions economy, then the Government must put ambitious and well-designed environmental regulations at the heart of economic policy making.”
If polluters don’t pay and enforcement activity is underfunded, then bad practitioners will undermine the leadership and ambition of many British businesses.
Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said: “The UK Government hosts the G7 and the COP26 climate conference this year where discussions will focus on the economic recovery opportunities in decarbonisation and restoring nature. We have everything to gain from this in terms of jobs, trade, green goods, services and technologies.
“But, if polluters don’t pay and enforcement activity is underfunded, then bad practitioners will undermine the leadership and ambition of many British businesses. The Green Industrial Revolution needs strong Green Industrial Regulation.”