Author Archives: William Andrews Tipper

Why does Michael Gove want to treat farmers and water companies differently?

gove smallMichael Gove was in pugnacious form in his address to last week’s annual Water UK City Conference. Pulling no punches, his subjects included water company abuse of monopoly power, the use of offshore companies and complex financial engineering, and the privileging of shareholders at the expense of the UK’s billpayers, taxpayers and the environment. It would be no surprise if, in the aftermath, a number of bruised industry executives were tempted to beat a retreat to their Cayman Island offices so criticised by Gove. Read more

Three things you should know about the Natural Capital Committee’s advice on the 25 year plan for the environment

View of farm gate.The government has not lacked advice as to what should go in its long promised 25 year plan for the environment. Most of it has ended up as white noise but, finally, and with surprisingly little fanfare, we have something of significance: the official advice to government of the Natural Capital Committee (NCC).

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How Michael Gove can unleash a new wave of farming entrepreneurs

English Longhorn cattle on Cissbury Ring, West Sussex, in winter

For farmers, change is a way of life. Weather is unpredictable. Consumer appetites change. Prices go up and down. Managing uncertainty and volatility goes with the job.

But the ability of farmers to keep bouncing back will soon be tested to its limits, and possibly beyond. Brexit will bring change of a scale and at a speed that will dwarf anything seen by the current generation of farmers. This could include changes to the availability and cost of labour, the size and terms of subsidy payments, the potential imposition of new import and export tariffs and, should certain trade deals be struck, increased competition from low cost food imports. Not all farmers will cope. Many are likely to fail. Read more

Why we need to look beyond subsidies to save UK farming

field agriculture farm crops england ukUK farming is in crisis. Forty per cent of farms make no profit. Farm debt is soaring. Farmers are taking home an ever decreasing share of what we spend on food and, over the long term, food prices have been dropping.

Many farmers are stuck in a cycle of working the land ever harder just to break even. This is taking a heavy toll on the asset that farming relies on most of all – nature –  as regular reports from the State of Nature partnership and the Natural Capital Committee make clear.

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The government’s 25 year plan should mobilise private funding for environmental restoration

natural_investment_web_coverSince the EU referendum, there has been growing pressure for clarity over two things. First, how an independent UK will protect its natural environment, and, second, how we will pay for it, as most of the legislation that currently directs these areas comes from the EU.

Very soon, the government will be laying down the first major marker for its approach with its 25 year plan for the environment. The title is perhaps slightly misleading; it will not be a plan, rather an outline for how to develop a plan. But the signs are that it will contain some heartening aspirations and set out a strong framework. And above all, it will bring welcome clarity to an area where before there was only speculation and uncertainty.

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Grimsby shows how offshore wind is supporting jobs and growth

wind power support boatThe offshore wind sector is playing an increasingly important role in providing jobs and economic growth along Britain’s North Sea coast.

More than one in ten people live in coastal communities, reflecting the UK’s maritime tradition and the historic importance of its ports to the economy.  Many of these places face profound social and economic challenges stemming from the decline of traditionally strong local industries such as fishing. Read more

What will turn Generation Y onto sustainable investment?

The Stock MarketProfessional investors have been stubbornly resistant to the idea that climate change should have any bearing on their decision-making. They continue to sink money into high carbon industries while ignoring the returns available from green infrastructure like clean energy and sustainable transport. These low carbon developments face an annual global funding gap of $1 trillion dollars. As Martin Wolf said in the FT, “Investors are implicitly betting [that] the world will abandon its pledge to keep emissions below the level thought to produce a rise of 2C.” Read more

Why politicians are ducking responsibility for bringing down energy bills

House Thermal ImageThis post first appeared on BusinessGreen.

The current ‘green crap’ debate is a dispiriting failure of political leadership on energy. Not because it’s wrong to focus on reducing the burden of high energy bills on consumers, but because the solution being proposed: cutting environmental and social levies, will offer only a small bill reduction, while diverting attention from where it should be focused: on the UK’s shameful failure to implement a national energy efficiency programme. Read more

Why government ambivalence on low carbon puts UK green business at risk

Nurturing UK cleantech enterprise-1This post is by Will Andrews Tipper, head of sustainable business at Green Alliance. He is the author of our new analysis The global green race: a business review of UK competitiveness in low carbon markets, based on input from 12 global businesses.

The UK’s green businesses are worried about the future. This ought to be surprising as, on the face of it, they’ve never had it better. The UK’s low carbon and environmental sector reported sales of £128 billion in 2011-12, delivering a trade surplus for the UK economy of nearly £5 billion. The sector has dramatically out performed the mainstream economy since the onset of the financial crisis. Read more

The new consensus – only green growth will work

This post is by Will Andrews Tipper, Green Alliance’s head of sustainable business. It first appeared on BusinessGreen.com

A month ago, I returned from a consultancy career in Brussels to take up a new role as Head of Sustainable Business at the environmental think tank, Green Alliance. As I got off the Eurostar I read with interest the posters informing me about their efforts to drive down carbon emissions and incentivise more sustainable travel. Green makes good business sense, was the very clear message. Read more