The government has revealed the full details of its Industrial Strategy to boost growth and productivity, naming clean growth as one of four key ‘Grand Challenges’ for the economy.
Launching the strategy on 27 November, business secretary Greg Clark said the UK was well-placed to benefit from a “new industrial revolution” that is transforming “the way we earn and live our lives as workers, citizens and consumers”.
The strategy sets out how government will support key sectors and technologies that it believes will help make the UK the world’s most innovative nation by 2030.
It is accompanied by a series of Sector Deals with chosen industries and a commitment to invest a further £725 million through ‘Industrial Challenge Fund’ innovation programmes, on top of the £1 billion promised earlier in the year.
Four ‘Grand Challenges’ are identified in the strategy as defining global trends which the UK must embrace: Artificial Intelligence, Clean Growth, Ageing Society, and Future of Mobility.
Clean Growth is described as “one of the greatest industrial opportunities of our time”, with five areas prioritised for government investment:
• Smart energy systems across power, heating and transport
• Efficient construction techniques
• Energy efficiency for energy-intensive industries
• High-efficiency agriculture
• Global leadership in green finance
The Artificial Intelligence and Future of Mobility challenges also prioritise related goals, such as moving from hydrocarbon to zero emission vehicles and using AI to improve productivity.
Resource efficiency is singled out elsewhere in the strategy, including a commitment to launch a new ‘resources and waste strategy’ in 2018 that will raise the resource productivity of businesses, “including through the promotion of recycling and strong secondary materials markets where products are designed with efficiency and recyclability in mind”.
‘Toughening of standards’
Commenting on the strategy, Matthew Farrow, executive director of the Environmental Industries Commission, said the focus on environmental goals “will often mean a gradual and predictable toughening up of environmental standards”.
"The emphasis on innovation and clean growth, resource productivity and the circular economy, and the need to enhance natural capital are all given much-needed prominence. These are aims that require long term effort and consistency to achieve, and will mean managing trade-offs that will not always be popular”, he added.