A version of this article was published on Business Green.
The forthcoming industrial strategy white paper will set out the government’s plan to boost productivity and drive growth across the economy. If it is to be a success, it needs to grapple with two fundamental changes to the business environment.
Not all of the ten ‘pillars’ of the industrial strategy green paper will make it into the white paper expected by the end of this year. Civil servants working on the final strategy say the innovation, skills, place, business and infrastructure pillars are the ones likely to remain and the content of the affordable energy and clean growth pillar will be embedded across the strategy. If that can be done well it will better than having a standalone chapter, but if it is done badly, it will be a disaster for the UK’s low carbon transition.
In her speech in Ottawa yesterday, Theresa May reiterated the UK’s commitment to phasing out unabated coal (ie where emissions are not captured) by 2025. This was the prime minister’s first public statement on climate policy since taking office after the Brexit referendum last year. Although the Conservative manifesto mentioned it, the prime minister has been worryingly tight lipped, leading to concerns about her commitment to climate leadership. Brexit has slowed down domestic policy making, but this statement asserts the UK’s aspiration to be a global climate leader, even as it prepares to leave the EU. Read more
I’m in a café in the House of Commons, talking to a newly-elected MP about climate change. He’s under no illusions about likely impacts. He points out that where we’re sitting, beside the River Thames, could be under water in decades to come. He calls climate change ‘catastrophic’, and looks for every opportunity he can to raise the issue. But his commitment has come at a price: speaking out on climate is, he tells me, a ‘career-limiting move’.
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
Credit where credit’s due, the UK has shown strong leadership in tackling climate change. We were the first major economy to commit to phasing out coal fired power and we’ve set ambitious, legally binding carbon budgets up to 2032. We’ve also made strong progress towards meeting these carbon targets, having achieved our 2020 target five years early in 2015. Read more