Economic prosperity and environmental sustainability can go hand in hand in the UK, if the future government is prepared to work with businesses who make up the environmental industries.
That was the message from Stephen Marcos Jones, chief executive of the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) as he revealed the organisation’s highly anticipated policy manifesto, at a parliamentary reception during Net Zero Week.
The manifesto ‘Green Growth, Skills and Prosperity: Priorities for the Next UK Government’ provides a comprehensive framework for positive change, drawing on the expertise and experiences of business owners working across SMEs and large multinational companies.
In his speech, Jones described the need for strong leadership as “axiomatic” as he outlined a recent Climate Change Committee report which stated that, despite some progress, the committee was markedly less confident than a year ago that the UK would reach its targets for cutting carbon emissions.
He added the concerns raised in the report were also consistently raised by EIC members and “now more than ever” a collaborative relationship was needed between the businesses working in the environmental industries sector and policymakers across government and competent authorities.
“We need to work as a team to solve the climate crisis,” he said.
“EIC members have the expertise, experience and technical knowledge to support government in these areas prioritised by the Climate Change Committee.”
Philippa Spence, Chair of EIC and managing director and UK managing director, Ramboll added: “It can be hard to stay optimistic in the face of science, which is irrefutable in terms of the challenge to reverse damage done.
“But I am optimistic, because within the environmental services and technology sector, we have the knowledge, we have the innovation and we have the absolute passion to make a difference.
“These are the ingredients of positive change.”
The parliamentary reception was attended by several keynote speakers including Rt Hon George Eustice MP, former Secretary of State to DEFRA and Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, Lord Spokesperson for Liberal Democrats for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Nusrat Ghani MP, Minister of State in the Department for Business and Trade and the Cabinet Office.
The EIC’s manifesto was also officially launched, outlining the significant role the UK has to play in shaping global efforts towards environmental sustainability and recognising the environmental services and technology sector turns over £89 billion in the UK, creates 349,000 jobs and contributes 3.9% of GDP.
The manifesto draws on the wide-ranging expertise and experiences of its members to present a number of recommendations around the implementation of stricter air quality targets and building resilience in water management and supply.
The manifesto also examines ways in which biodiversity action and green infrastructure should be prioritised and levelling up should be supported through “brownfield first” including the introduction of a greenfield surcharge as part of the infrastructure levy.
The policy recommendations also look to drive collaboration and implementation of key policy frameworks and streamline regulations for environmental growth.
The EIC specifically chose Net Zero Week for the launch of its manifesto, as the global initiative is dedicated to raising awareness and accelerating progress towards net-zero emissions.
With nations and industries intensifying their efforts to combat climate change, the EIC's policy roadmap aims to shape the conversation and drive tangible change across sectors.
Guto Davies, Director of Policy at the EIC said; "Our policy manifesto is the culmination of extensive research, collaboration, and expertise from our members and stakeholders.
“It presents a bold and pragmatic vision for a sustainable future, outlining actionable policies that can drive real change.
“By releasing it during Net Zero Week, we aim to catalyse meaningful conversations and inspire decisive action towards a net-zero carbon economy."
L to R: Philippa Spence, George Eustice MP and Stephen Marcos Jones
L to R: Philippa Spence, Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville and Stephen Marcos Jones
L to R: Philippa Spence, Nusrat Ghani MP and Stephen Marcos Jones