30th July, 2013

Government data confirms green goods and services market grew nearly five per cent to 128bn in 2011/12

The UK's green goods and services market increased almost five per cent to more than 128bn during 2011/12, according to government figures released last week. While the rest of the economy remained virtually flat, sales in green markets grew by almost 6bn, while the sector racked up a trade surplus of 5.2bn. The green economy has come of age: now let's give it the statistics it deserves Is the coalition failing on its green tax pledge? The data also confirmed that the group of industries classified as providing green goods and services employed just under 940,000 people.

In addition, the report indicated that the UK's green economy is enhancing its international competitiveness and boosting its export prospects. The UK now accounts for a 3.7 per cent share of the global Low Carbon Environmental Goods and Services (LCEGS) market, which is valued at 3.4tr and has grown by 3.8 per cent since last year's figures were issued. The figures suggest that the UK is outperforming a global market, which is in turn growing faster than the underlying economy.

The data covers a wide range of sectors, including renewable energy, consulting, nuclear power, waste, and pollution and noise control, prompting criticism in some quarters that not all of the industries covered by the report should be classified as "green" or "low carbon". However, the report confirms that alternative fuels, building technologies, and wind power are by far the largest sectors in terms of both global and UK LCEGS sales, where they accounted for 19.2bn, 15.4bn, and 15.1bn respectively.

The UK's LCEGS sector remains the sixth in the world, behind the US where sales reached 661bn, China with 444bn, Japan on 213bn, India with 211bn and Germany at 145bn. However, the UK's 4.8 per cent growth rate was higher than any other country in the top 10 bar Brazil. Significantly, LCEGS imports grew 2.8 per cent to 7bn, with alternative fuels and building technologies again among the largest sectors, along with water, wind, solar PV and geothermal. China accounted for 475m of UK imports, followed by Hong Kong on 415m, and Spain at 319m. However, UK green goods and services exports increased 3.7 per cent to 12.2bn to create a trade surplus of 5.2bn. Sales to China reached just under 822m, a surplus of 347m, while the UK also enjoyed 199m surpluses with both Hong Kong and Spain, its two biggest LCGES trading partners.

A department of Business, Innovation, and Skills (BIS) spokeswoman said the strong showing represented "good news" for the whole of the economy. "The report confirms the UK is leading the way in emerging low carbon sectors, with strong 2011/12 sales growth in carbon finance (6.8 per cent), wind energy (7.5 per cent) and solar PV (6.6 per cent)," she said in an emailed statement. "The wide spread of companies and jobs across the country has meant that each region has benefited from LCEGS sales growth of over four per cent in 2011/12."

However, the low key nature of last week's report publication release frustrated green campaigners, who argued that the impact of the figures on government planning will be diluted until the data is officially collected by the Office of National Statistics (ONS). Alastair Harper, senior policy adviser at think tank Green Alliance, said the LCGES figures should be replaced by a more prominent, specific green economy metric. "This and other indicators, such as the massive scale of low carbon in the Treasury's infrastructure investment plans, make it very clear that the green economy is one of the main sources of growth for the UK," he said. "That's why it's time for government to catch up and roll the green economy data into official ONS monitoring. LCEGS continues to be a useful indicator, but this sector has long graduated onto the main stage and it's time that this was recognised."

Source: Business Green

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