Making Green Pay

I like a bit of straight talking.  And there’s been no shortage of it this week, particularly when it comes to the subject of delivering the Government agenda on reducing carbon emissions. The EEF, the Manufacturer’s Association that represents more than 6,000 engineering, manufacturing, construction and technology companies in the UK, has called on the Government to carry out a full scale review of its climate change and environmental policies prior to the next spending review.  Why? Because delivering against legislation is costly and doesn’t necessarily achieve the best outcomes.

It’s an all too familiar story.  An approach governed by targets doesn’t consider the capabilities, infrastructure or ambition of individual companies; it simply gives them a number of milestones that they need to reach. The EEF’s report, ‘Managing Green and Growth’ calls for a much more pragmatic and practical approach to defining environmental legislation, where new ideas are given a ‘stress test’ to see if they work in practice before they become a matter of compliance.

The sad fact is that environmental legislation has become the Government’s big stick to beat companies with in order to achieve ambitious targets for the UK, promised on the international political stage. What the EEF report points out is that the UK has passed through is period of resistance to environmental change; companies of all shapes and sizes recognise the environmental and commercial advantages of reducing their emissions and have embraced the green agenda. But delivering that cultural shift amongst an endless array of legislative requirements is preventing companies from assessing where investment and process review will have the most positive environmental outcomes for their individual business.

Whether or not the EEF is successful in encouraging the Government to re-think its approach, there are two very important messages that are loud and clear in this report: that companies want to invest in being greener and that they expect tangible results from their investment. For any business that specialises in green energy, products, services or consultancy this is both an opportunity and a challenge which will continue to flourish regardless of how the Government reacts.