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Green Business Successes

Indicators show the new economy is outperforming the old

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Green businesses do better in times of economic crises than “conventional” firms. There seems to be increasing evidence for this. In the UK the CBI reported that over a third of the economic growth in 2011-2012 came from “green business”, outperforming other industry areas. According to a Green Alliance report published in August last year, the green economy supplied 939,600 jobs during 2010-2011, financial services was 1,061,900, motor trade manufacture and retail 518,400, and telecoms 212,900. So green businesses employed more people than major conventional sectors.

Green buildings also score over conventional ones. The World Green Building Council investigated this and found that green buildings – whether residential or commercial – have higher sale value, and can command a premium in rents, partially because the running costs will be lower, but also because living or working in a green building is more pleasant for people and satisfies their aspirations to have a more green lifestyle.

The UK is also the green financing centre of the world. One third of all global asset finance investment in new energy deals between 2007 and 2012 received both legal and financial advice from the UK. Green exports are now also a significant factor in UK trade, with the UK running a surplus in these items.

This is not just in the UK: in other EU countries the success of the green economy continues. In the EU-funded €86.8 million Eco-innovation programme: SMEs have demonstrated job creation and green growth, to the extent that the return on investment is 20 times what was invested: one euro brings in 20 in return. This is an astonishing performance which has not been noticed by most of the world but signals the way forward – creation of new products and services for a different economy, not reliant on carbon or fossil fuels. The EU has already funded 240 innovative projects and is looking to finance 45 more in the new funding round which started in May, so if you have a green project in gestation try here: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/eco-innovation/discover/publications/index_en.htm.

Some of the projects include a Danish effort to reuse old bricks, which saves 0.5 kg of CO2 per brick, compared to making new ones. A Spanish-French project to tan leather using a low-pollution titanium-based process. An Austrian project to produce healthy Omega-3 fatty acids for human consumption from algae, rather than fish, which leads to overfishing. Together all the Eco-innovation projects are estimated to have saved 800 million euros in environmental benefits. The programme is estimated to have created over 1000 full-time equivalent jobs, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions (a saving of 3.7m tonnes CO2 equivalent).

It seems increasingly clear that the green economy is where the best hopes are for a posperous economy and good jobs, not in the “sunset” industries reliant on dirty, depleting fossil fuels and their associated processes.

Green economy report

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