Industrial strategy

Diamond in the rough: why Scotland has a key role to play in the UK's clean growth

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) has a troubled history with the Conservative Party. Two failed competitions, two National Audit Office inquiries, and millions of pounds spent without a single operational large-scale project to show for it is hardly an endearing track record for any new Minister to inherit. But with the publication of the Clean Growth Strategy, Ministers across government have signalled renewed, albeit cautious, enthusiasm for CCS as part of new plans to decarbonise and grow the UK economy.

“It is very much a personal commitment and something I strongly believe is exceptionally important”, Claire Perry MP, Minister for Climate Change and Industry, told a Westminster Hall debate back in October 2017. “We want the prize of global leadership in this area: we want to be the people who break the deadlock, deploy CCS in the UK and capture the export opportunities”. Strong statements, considering the rocky history.

Newfound enthusiasm for CCS in the Conservative Party however doesn’t come without its caveats. “Costs must come down” has been the go-to line for Energy Ministers since the ill-fated CCS commercialisation programme was brought to an abrupt conclusion in November 2015. But as Offshore Wind Week has so aptly demonstrated, cost reduction for low-carbon technologies is as much within the gift of governments as it is of the private sector and research communities.

Consider how relative policy certainty and clear commitments to offshore wind, for example, have made the UK a global leader in the field; and then contrast that to the indecision and sporadic flip-flopping that has characterised political appetite for CCS in the UK. That’s the scale of the challenge facing Claire Perry, and overcoming it will require much more than £100 million worth of research and development and a CCUS (carbon capture, utilisation and storage) pilot.

The UK isn’t the only country grappling with the ‘how to do CCS’ question though. At the vanguard of international efforts on CCS is the International Energy Agency (IEA), who recently hosted a high-level roundtable with Ministers and CEOs from some of the world’s largest energy companies. The IEA’s Executive Director, Fatih Birol, described it as the “highest level of industry and government engagement that we have seen on CCUS”. (Unfortunately, the UK chose not to send a Minister.)

New IEA analysis published that day shows that global capital investment in large-scale CCUS projects has now surpassed $10 billion. A huge amount of money no doubt; but not when compared against investments in other low-carbon technologies, which came close to $850 billion during the last year alone.

“Without CCS, the challenge [of meeting global climate goals] will be infinitely greater”, said a joint statement from Birol and US Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, adding, “we know this is essentially a policy question”. Part of the problem with CCS policy (and politics) though is that perceptions of costs continue to dominate the discourse, often before any discussion around the benefits has even begun.

Robust policy development requires a proper understanding of the costs and benefits of different investments and different technological pathways. In the UK to date though, CCS policy has been based predominantly around cost and risk management. In its review of the second CCS Competition, the National Audit Office found that the responsible department (the Department for Energy and Climate Change, at the time) hadn’t even fully assessed the benefits of the programme.

That’s why a new study from Summit Power, a US project developer with a portfolio including both traditional and alternative forms of electricity generation, has started to turn heads.

In the aftermath of the November 2015 cancellation of the CCS commercialisation programme, Summit quietly began developing options for a new gas CCS project at the Grangemouth industrial site in Scotland. With an anchor power project helping to de-risk investments in CO2 transport and storage infrastructure, industrial emitters in the region would be able to access an affordable solution for reducing their CO2 emissions.

Working with a range of academics, consultants and other CCS organisations (including the Teesside Massive, sorry, Collective), Summit has turned the typical CCS cost debate on its head. Instead of focussing only on what CCS might cost, its first-of-a-kind analysis has also shown the economic benefits that it might bring.

Based on Committee on Climate Change (CCC) analysis and guidance from the HM Treasury Green Book, Summit found that CCS could deliver £169 billion in benefits to the UK economy between now and 2060, compared to total costs of £34 billion.

A significant portion of the benefits identified derive from avoiding CO2 emissions, but by working with the University of Strathclyde to assess ‘linked economies’, the analysis found that the project could deliver £5 billion worth of health/wellbeing benefits and a colossal £54 billion increase in domestic economic activity. Between now and 2060, the analysis estimated that more than 225,000 jobs could be created or retained as a result of investing in CCS.  

Aside from costs, the other main hurdle that CCS has struggled to overcome in the UK is the scale of commitment required. Summit’s approach, again, tackles this challenge head-on and illustrates how a UK CCS programme could be structured so that each individual phase would make sense in its own right.

Far from requiring government to commit to an endless roll-out of projects in order to justify initial investments in infrastructure, Summit’s analysis shows that a decision to invest in just two initial phases of CCS between now and 2025 could provide £8.1 billion in economic benefits to the UK in return for a total investment of £3.8 billion. What’s more, that initial investment then provides optionality for the future: invest further if more CCS is needed; don’t bother if it’s not. Nothing lost.

The coming weeks will see the first meeting of the new CCS Cost Challenge Task Force and the Ministerial CCUS Council. It’s not yet clear what impact Summit’s analysis will have on the direction of future CCS policy, but one would at least hope that it helps shift a conversation dominated by costs to one that also recognises the substantial benefit that CCS could bring to the UK. As David Cameron once said:

"This isn't a distant dream. CCS is truly within our grasp. And we in Britain have got what it takes to make that a reality. We've got an army of experts who have worked for decades in the energy sector. We've got a manufacturing and energy industry that wants to invest and get things going. What's more, we've got the depleted oil and gas fields in the North Sea in which to store the carbon.”

Theo Mitchell is Director of Enerfair Engagement, a policy and communications consultancy dedicated to industrial decarbonisation and the energy transition. Previously, he was Head of Office and Energy Policy advisor to Lord Ian Duncan in the European Parliament and Policy Manager at the Carbon Capture and Storage Association

The views expressed in the article are those of the author, not necessarily those of Bright Blue

Putting the environmental sector at the heart of the Government’s industrial strategy

One of the driving ideas at the heart of Theresa May’s vision for Britain is the rebirth of a term that since the 1970s has been rarely uttered by those in government – industrial strategy. Backed by the creation of a new department, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and championed by its Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, the foundations were laid out in the ‘Building our Industrial Strategy’ Green Paper published at the beginning of this year. The Green Paper mandates the need to “build on our strengths and extend excellence into the future”. As the leading trade association for environmental technology and services, at the Environmental Industries Commission we contend that the UK’s environmental sector is a strength to be built upon, and therefore should be central to the industrial strategy.

The environmental sector is one of the UK’s fastest growing. In the decade since EIC was formed in 1995 the value of the sector has grown tenfold – from £13 billion to £124 billion in 2015. Between 2010 and 2014 it grew by 11% compared to the 7% growth seen by the economy as a whole. It provides 373,000 largely skilled jobs, and contributes 1.6% to GDP with £29 billion of value added to the economy – more than pharmaceuticals or aerospace. The growth of the sector is all but guaranteed, as it is largely driven by Government initiative, and there is now a consensus across the main parties that climate change and the health of the environment in general are essential issues. For instance, the current commitment to combat poor air quality across the country will spur the growth of the air quality management sector, while the necessity to build new housing on brownfield land boosts the contaminated land remediation sector. 

The global market also poses a great opportunity for UK environmental business. The expanding middle-classes of emerging powers such as India and China necessitate governments to clean up their environments. The UK has both the expertise and innovative technology solutions required to meet some of that demand, but at the moment we aren’t doing enough to promote ourselves. UK environmental exports currently total 0.6% of the $1 trillion global market and even without increasing our share we predict 26,640 new jobs will be created by 2025. Increase that share by 50% and 40,000 new jobs will follow.

Despite the existence of world-class research and expertise in this country, there is still much room for improvement, and in relative terms the UK lags behind nations such as Finland, Denmark and Ireland. These nations have burgeoned the growth of their environmental sectors through government backing for research and development, and support for early-stage green investments to help pioneering technology reach the market. In Denmark’s case, 3% of GDP is invested in research and development, while $657 per capita is allocated for early-stage green investments (as in Ireland), compared to the UK’s $163.  In Finland, a 2012 strategy made ‘cleantech’ one of the four focal points of Finland’s economy. This included the setting up of a Cleantech Finland board, headed by their Prime Minister and including ministers, business leaders and key civil servants. Finland also prioritises the promotion of its green technology in all its international influencing activities.

We represent many small environmental technology firms that have come up with ingenious ways to deal with a plethora of environmental challenges. As amazing as this technology is, it often doesn’t get the market exposure it deserves. We are doing our part to promote our members’ work in Government and beyond, but the green industry also needs the firm backing of Government, whether that’s through early stage investment through bodies such as Innovate UK, favourable economic policy instruments that support the growth of green business, or by better promoting the sector for export.

By setting out an environmental industrial strategy, the Government can fight on two fronts – supporting the green industry is both economically sound and would help the UK, and by extension the world, to be more effective at tackling its environmental problems and building a sustainable future.
Sam Ralph is the Policy Executive at the Environmental Industries Commission, the trade association of the environmental services and technologies sector

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and are not necessarily shared by Bright Blue

A low-carbon modern industrial strategy

It is often claimed that to tackle climate change we must sacrifice some economic prosperity. The raw statistics clearly disprove this, and show that you can in fact have both. Between 1990 and 2014, the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 35%. In the same period, the UK’s gross domestic product increased by 62%. So strong growth can go hand in hand with climate change mitigation.

But we should go further than this defensive position. We should instead argue that decarbonisation is an economic opportunity. This claim has two parts. First, cheap, efficient, clean energy reduces costs for business and households. Second, our leadership in the clean technologies of the future is vital for securing the UK’s long-term economic prosperity. And this was the narrative that is resoundingly endorsed in this week’s green paper on the modern industrial strategy.

Reducing energy costs for business

Energy is at the heart of the industrial strategy, and was one of the ten pillars under the heading “delivering affordable energy and clean growth”. The first half of the chapter focuses on reducing the cost of energy for businesses. It is true that UK energy costs are higher than many industrial competitors: in 2015, average UK industrial electricity prices including taxes were the third highest in the EU, behind Italy and Germany. A 2016 PwC report found that this is primarily due to higher ‘commodity prices’, such as gas and coal. So in other words climate policies are not the main driver.

However, it is true that levies to fund climate change policies, like Contracts for Difference or Feed-in Tariffs, are a component of energy bills. To ensure these are minimised, the Government is now committed to carry out a review on the cost of decarbonisation.

It is essential that we cut emissions in the cheapest way possible to keep businesses competitive and households’ utility bills affordable. Current policy already reflects this principle: a fundamental provision of the Climate Change Act 2008 is that the Committee on Climate Change advises the government on how to cut emissions in the most cost-effective way.

What should the new government review focus on? One of the simplest ways for the Government to reduce energy costs would be to encourage homes and businesses to use less energy in the first place. To do this, government must leverage more private investment into energy efficiency and decentralised renewables. Bright Blue has called for the government to issue 'Help to Improve' loan guarantees. This would reduce the cost of financing loans below the rate offered by the private sector.

But as well as reducing demand, we need to decarbonise the supply and replace ageing power stations. As argued elsewhere on this blog, Ministers could reduce the cost of this new energy infrastructure by enabling mature technologies such as onshore wind and solar to compete for zero-subsidy, fixed-price contracts. The Conservatives’ 2015 General Election manifesto commitment to stop subsidised onshore wind developments can be respected if fixed-price contracts are awarded on a competitive basis to whichever energy is cheapest.

Supporting the industries of the future

Many conservatives are instinctively hesitant about government choosing which industries are likely to be successful in the future. The Government’s modern industrial strategy sought to address these concerns by focusing on providing favourable conditions for growth to emerging sectors, rather than offer direct financial support to incumbents. Instead of subsidies, the Government’s preferred policy levers are skills, institutions, infrastructure, research, and regulatory reform. Three low-carbon sectors get particular mention in the plan: battery storage, ultra-low emission vehicles, and nuclear.

First, Ministers have commissioned a review into a new research institution to enable the UK to become a global leader in battery storage. Bright Blue strongly welcomes this; in our 2015 report Green and responsible conservatism, we called on the Government to initiate a major research programme on storage. Batteries will be key for guaranteeing security of supply with a higher proportion of our electricity coming from variable renewables. There is also mounting evidence that storage will save consumers money on their bills, with a recent Carbon Trust report estimating a £2.4 billion benefit by 2030.

Second, the Government appointed Richard Parry-Jones, former chair of Network Rail, to conduct a sectoral review for ultra-low emission vehicles. The review will propose changes to regulation, tax, infrastructure, and other policies, which will form the basis of a ‘sector deal’. One of the regulatory changes government should consider is enabling all English cities to set up low emission zones in pollution hotspots. This would provide a nudge to urban motorists to swap their diesel car for a cleaner, electric alternative. Infrastructure improvements are needed too, which means, above all, increasing the number of rapid charging points. Bright Blue has recommended that the Government issue loan guarantees to private providers to reduce their cost of capital and encourage them to invest in new charging points.

Finally, a sector review for the nuclear industry to be carried out by Lord Hutton, chair of the Nuclear Industry Association, was announced. Tackling the shortage in STEM skills and technical education should be a priority for any nuclear sector deal. Bright Blue has argued that a lifetime tuition fee loan account, to enable anyone at any point in their lives to have the upfront funding to pay for any type of higher education, whether vocational or academic. The loans should be paid back through the PAYE system above a certain salary threshold.

The modern industrial strategy has set out a strong framework on which supportive policies to drive British industrial success can hang. That three of the five early sector deals announced were directly in the low carbon economy shows the industrial opportunity the government sees from emission reduction. Conservative peer Lord Deben has said that “economic self-harm would be to not have the Climate Change Act.” He’s right, and this week’s modern industrial strategy shows that the Government is in agreement too.

Sam Hall is a researcher at Bright Blue

A turbo-charge statement for electric vehicles

This week’s Autumn Statement brought some good news for proponents of electric vehicles. With lower than expected tax receipts and a worsening economic outlook due to Brexit, the Chancellor did not have much cash to give out. The new spending that he did announce was focused on infrastructure, a long-term approach that he hoped would be rewarded by increased tax revenues in the future.

This is intended to tackle one of the fundamental weaknesses of the UK economy that the Chancellor rightly identified in his speech: Poor productivity growth. ‘Productivity’ measures how much economic value is created from a fixed period of labour. Strong productivity growth signals long-term wage rises and economic growth. Concerningly, under this crucial metric, the UK lags well behind Germany and the US by some 30 percentage points. Infrastructure investment helps to improve productivity. For instance, investment in transport can reduce workers’ journey times, freeing up space in the day for more economically productive activity.

The Autumn Statement measures

This is where electric vehicles come in. As part of the £23 billion National Productivity Investment Fund, £390 million of funding over the next four years will be spent on developing future transport technologies. This includes £80 million for electric vehicle charging infrastructure and £150 million of support for low emission buses and taxis.

In addition to this new spending, there were several tax changes to incentivise uptake of electric vehicles. Companies will be given 100% first-year capital allowances for investments in new charging infrastructure until 2019, allowing businesses to deduct the cost of new charge points from their corporate tax bill. And although the Chancellor heavily pruned back salary sacrifice schemes in his statement, the perk was retained for schemes supporting electric vehicles. There were also changes to company car tax, creating lower bands for electric vehicles.

What should come next?

Bright Blue has two further policy recommendations that would drive uptake of electric vehicles, at little additional cost to the Treasury. First, the current plans for five Clean Air Zones in Derby, Nottingham, Birmingham, Leeds, and Southampton should be expanded. Earlier this week, the Government was told by the High Court it had until April 2017 to draw up a new draft air quality plan, as the previous one took too long to bring the UK into compliance with the legal limits.

We recommend devolving more funding and powers to city councils to enable all of them to set up Clean Air Zones where pollution is a problem. As well as charging the most polluting vehicles, Clean Air Zones will give preferential access to city centres to electric vehicles, such as priority at traffic lights and designated parking spaces. Academics have found that, in Germany, where there is a national network of over 70 low emission zones, owners of older, polluting vehicles have traded them in for cleaner ones. So a network of Clean Air Zones could stimulate the electric vehicle market in the UK too.

Second, this week’s Autumn Statement extended the lifetime of the UK Guarantees Scheme until at least 2026. Under this policy, the Treasury guarantees loans to private sector investors, giving them access to capital to fund new infrastructure. Since it was launched under the Coalition Government, it has given out £1.8 billion of guarantees, supporting over £4 billion of investment. We believe these loan guarantees could also be offered to drive investment in a network of charging points for electric vehicles.

Why is this important?

Accelerating the electric vehicle revolution offers many potential benefits, in addition to improving air quality. The Government is currently drafting its Emission Reduction Plan, which will set out how the legally-binding carbon budgets will be met. Transport now has the highest carbon emissions of any sector in the economy. What’s more, these emissions have actually risen for the past two years. Electrifying the car fleet would help the government make progress in decarbonising this stubbornly high-emitting sector.

Boosting electric vehicle uptake is also likely to be a key plank of the Government’s forthcoming industrial strategy. The UK is already the largest market for electric vehicles in Europe. Nissan, for instance, has invested over £420 million in the UK to build its electric vehicle, the Leaf. In 2015, the number of electric cars on the roads globally surpassed a million, more than doubling the total in 2014. This was also the year when electric vehicles’ market share of new purchases in the UK rose above 1%. Electric vehicles are a major economic opportunity for the UK to seize.

Electric cars are still near the start of their journey. But, as a result of the Chancellor’s measures this week, they have moved a few miles further towards the destination.

Sam Hall is a researcher at Bright Blue

Should we dash for shale gas?

One of Theresa May’s first energy announcements has been to redouble efforts to kick-start the UK’s fracking industry. Last weekend, government sources briefed the media that residents living near fracking sites would receive a cash payment to compensate them for disruption. That was followed by the Treasury releasing a consultation on a ‘Shale Wealth Fund’ earlier this week. It contains proposals to give local communities up to 10% of the total tax revenue from shale gas developments, with a proportion of the fund paid directly to individual households. A version of this policy was set out in the Conservative Party’s 2015 manifesto.

Bright Blue has been sceptical in the past about the environmental and economic case for fracking. This blog will examine the evidence on whether the UK needs to produce shale gas, and whether it would have a negative impact on our environment.

Do we need gas?

Gas currently provides heating to 90% of UK households, with little prospect of an alternative heating technology achieving significant market penetration any time soon. Even on the National Grid’s optimistic ‘Gone Green’ scenario, gas will still provide the majority of UK households with heating in 2040. However, improvements in energy efficiency and increased deployment of renewable heating technologies will slowly reduce gas demand in this sector.

The Government has committed to phasing out coal-fired power stations in favour of additional gas and offshore wind generation. The effects of this can already be seen, with gas generating 37.8% of the UK’s electricity in the first quarter of 2016, up from 24.7% in the same quarter in 2015. Moreover, with a growing share of renewables on the grid, gas is needed to provide some flexible generating capacity to ensure the lights stay on when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.

But the maturing of new smart technologies, such as storage, demand-side response, and interconnection, will in time reduce the need for gas to balance power supply and demand. Moreover, as we found in our last report, too much gas in the power mix will cause carbon targets to be missed. The use of gas in electricity production therefore is unlikely to continue at its current high levels.

Do we need to produce our own gas?

Around 55% of the total supply of natural gas in the UK is imported. With declining levels of production in the North Sea, this figure is expected to increase in future years, with National Grid predicting an increase of as much as 38% by 2030. Most of the imports come from Norway or, in the form of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Qatar.

There is some evidence that fracking would create jobs in the UK, particularly in areas with relatively low levels of economic activity. Ernst and Young have claimed that at its peak a UK fracking industry could generate around £3.3 billion of spending and support some 64,500 jobs, of which 6,100 would be direct.

However, given demand for natural gas will decrease in the long-term, the UK risks locking itself into an industry with a limited lifespan. Energy companies that are being encouraged to invest in fracking could instead be incentivised to invest in innovative clean energy. The UK has a great opportunity to lead globally in these new low-carbon technologies.

What would be the environmental impact of fracking?

Earlier this year, the Committee on Climate Change released a report examining whether developing fracking in the UK would be compatible with meeting the government’s legally binding carbon budgets. They specify three conditions for compatibility. First, methane leakages from the wells must be prevented, as methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas. Methane emissions can be controlled with new technology and proper monitoring. Second, gas consumption must not increase overall. So fracked shale gas must replace imported gas, not nuclear or renewables, in the power mix. Third, additional greenhouse gas emissions from the production process must be offset through deeper emissions reductions elsewhere.

Overall then, the climate impact of fracking can be mitigated, although fracking is not going to play a role in emissions reduction. These findings broadly matched those of DECC’s then Chief Scientific Advisor David Mackay from 2013.

A number of concerns have also been raised about the non-climate environmental impacts of fracking, for instance concerning water pollution and earthquakes. The Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering published a report in 2012 that found these environmental risks could be managed with robust regulation, particularly of the integrity of the fracking well.


There is a case for allowing short-term shale gas extraction in the UK, provided that it displaces coal and imported LNG. Stringent environmental regulations are essential to limit methane leakage, and tighter planning controls could reduce the impact on the natural environment.

But the long-term energy needs of the UK will not be served by fracking. The Government should proceed with caution, and should not exaggerate the benefits. With the new Government’s emphasis on industrial strategy, fracking is not the best long-term bet for Britain’s energy and economic future.

Powering ahead: the case for a new green industrial strategy

If a week is a long time in politics, as Labour’s Harold Wilson famously said, this last month has felt like an eternity. It is scarcely more than a month since the UK took its most important collective decision in post-war history and voted to leave the European Union. Twenty days later, Theresa May became the UK’s second female Prime Minister.

Given the complexity of leaving the European Union, Mrs May’s time in No. 10 may be dominated almost completely by Brexit, yet all other policy issues – health, education, security, the environment and much more besides – are still there to be addressed.

From a trade union perspective, it has been a welcome surprise to see the new Prime Minister address a number of issues that have long been of great interest to us. These include corporate governance and the importance – or otherwise – of British companies remaining British. Particularly important has been Theresa May’s early commitment to an industrial strategy, even reorganising a government department to take that forward.

Yet some have expressed concern that climate change, a central part of the government’s agenda under both the last Labour administration and the Coalition, has been downgraded. Early action to dispel that fear would be welcome.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) believes that on this issue, we could kill two birds with one stone. Our new publication, ‘Powering Ahead’, puts the case for a sustainable industrial strategy. By sustainable, we mean it must take account of social, economic and environmental concerns. It is natural that industries are born, grow and ultimately die as technology moves on, but the upheaval involved cannot always be left to the whims of the market. In recent decades, deindustrialisation has caused serious disturbances, to put it mildly, in the lives of families and communities. That is why trade unions call for a just or fair transition as we move to more green jobs and away from more polluting ones.

Based on new research from Germany and Denmark, ‘Powering Ahead’ calls for a target of 50 per cent of UK energy coming from renewable sources by 2050. The market, by itself, will not deliver this objective. In Germany and Denmark, two countries that have made great strides towards environmental technology, the enabling role of government has been harnessed in a mission to break into those industries.

The UK government needs to step up to this challenge, with its potential for significant economic and industrial rewards. The economist Lord Stern has predicted a future annual global market of $500bn in environmental goods and services, so investment in these sectors today could reap very real economic benefits tomorrow.

We also believe that government should steer new green tech jobs towards the UK’s former industrial heartlands, which lost their livelihoods with the demise of heavy industry and too often have not seen new opportunities moving in to take the place of jobs lost. The referendum campaign showed that too many people do not believe globalisation has worked for them.

‘Powering Ahead’ explores a range of policy options the government could adopt. It calls for funds to support companies and universities, working together, to tackle the problem of storing renewable energy. It also calls for the development of a proper strategy, based on the building of a political consensus and using a social partnership approach. As readers might expect, the TUC looks enviously at the role of Danish and German trade unionists, utilising their countries’ models of social partnership to influence company decisions from an employee perspective. Politicians of the centre-right, such as Angela Merkel in Germany, seem most comfortable with this approach. Germany’s continued success as the strongest economy in Europe bears witness to its value. Collaboration must also be international; for example the report argues for cross-country effort to develop Carbon Capture and Storage technology, if this is too expensive for the UK government to fund by itself.

What is undoubtedly true is that pollution and environmental degradation know no borders and affect all of us, young and old, rich and poor, supporters of all political parties and of none. We all have an interest in the future of the planet and none of us have a monopoly of wisdom in how to safeguard it.

Outside of the EU, the TUC believes that challenge has become even harder. It was Lord Deben, described by Friends of the Earth as “the best Environment Secretary we’ve ever had”, who said he first became interested in environmental issues in the 1990s when the UK was described as the “dirty man of Europe” due to its poor recycling rates. Brexit may mean Brexit, but there is no mandate to return to those dark days and the Conservative Government needs to demonstrate how the UK’s environmental standards will be maintained and enhanced outside of the EU. The Green Conservatism project of Bright Blue has an important role to play on this issue and the TUC stands ready to support its work. 

Tim Page is senior policy officer at the TUC

The views expressed in this article are those of the author, not necessarily those of Bright Blue.