Davey calls for responsible capitalism in first major speech
Energy and Climate Secretary Ed Davey
What is the future of environmental progress in economically tough times? That was the question facing new Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey and former German Environment Minister Professor Dr Klaus Töpfer at the 2012 Green Alliance annual debate last night (Thursday).
Speaking in the plush setting of the German Ambassador’s Residence, Green Alliance Director Matthew Spencer used his opening address to outline current issues impacting the transition to a low carbon economy.
“The environment community gathered here tonight is operating in a much harsher environment than three or four years ago. Politics are tougher and the economics of making good environmental policy have become far more challenging,” he said in his opening remarks.
“The resource stresses that we know so well haven’t gone away but the economic crisis has obscured our previous understanding and the focus of our political leaders on some of those stresses and tensions in our economy.”
Making his first speech at a non-government event, Mr Davey said the financial crisis had brought about a need for “responsible capitalism.”
“Central to a vision of responsible capitalism is a sustainable economy… because the need for a green economy is so powerful we can be optimistic as we build that responsible capitalism with the green economy underpinning it,” he said.
A Liberal Democrat working under Vince Cable at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills before assuming his current role, Mr Davy took the opportunity to publicly applaud the work done by his predecessor Chris Huhne, adding that being appointed Energy and Climate Change Secretary was a “real privilege.”
On growth & investment …
Although conceding that the global economy had been “sick”, Mr Davey said he is optimistic that the UK can build a low carbon economy “out of the rubble of the financial crisis.”
“Growth is strong in the low carbon sector. If you look at the low carbon goods and services sector its been growing at 4 per cent a year. That’s faster than global GDP,” he said, adding that the sector as a whole has been predicted to reach £4trillion by 2015.
The Energy Secretary also emphasised progress made on the level of investment in renewables, despite the financial crisis, pointing out that global investment in renewables is currently outstripping investment in fossil fuels.
On green policy…
“One of the things that I have been really determined to emphasise in my first four weeks in this post is the importance of continuity and stability in energy policy... consistency of message from government ministers across the government is absolutely critical if we are going to bring that level of investment that we need.”
“Energy efficiency policies are unambiguously good for growth,” he said, insisting that there had not been a dilution in the government’s commitment to renewables.
On regulation …
International legally binding agreements on climate change were also key to combating climate change and creating a sustainable economy, the Secretary of State said, to not only reduce emissions but ensure investor confidence.
Turning his attention to the need to green UK infrastructure, Mr Davey called for more enforcement of building regulations.
“I think what’s important is that we see building regulation enforced. I haven’t seen a long list of builders being prosecuted for not enforcing regulations. You can have regulations but they need to be enforced,” he said.
Mr Davey said he would continue pushing for the European Union to adopt a more ambitious 30 per cent emission reduction target for 2020 and intended to raise the issue at a meeting of EU ministers next week.
A full video of the debate will be published on E2B Pulse early next week.
The event also provided a platform for the Green Alliance to launch its 2012-2015 strategy, outlining its goals for the next three years, including:
• Making green ideas salient in an era of economic uncertainty;
• Embedding green thinking more deeply in UK politics, so that the need for resource stewardship, low carbon energy, and a green economy are seen as critical objectives for good government; and
• Creating policy conditions which increase the proportion of UK investment in green goods and services.
Click here for more information on the Green Alliance.
Read their latest blog on E2B Pulse here.
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