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The Carbon Trust

23 Feb 2011 02:02:50

SW risks losing out on green growth

Companies in South West England develop greener products and services if they are to profit from the power of the green economy, says the Carbon Trust as it launches its Green Growth campaign in Bristol today.

The Carbon Trust commissioned independent research which found that:

• while more businesses in the South West see green growth as an opportunity (67%) compared to the rest of the UK
• And over three quarters recognise the business benefits an enhanced ‘green’ reputation can bring to their organisation (76%)
• fewer than 1 in 3 are actively developing greener products and services (30%)
• and two thirds do not have an annual plan to reduce carbon emissions (65%)

Some local businesses however are already enjoying growth in the low carbon economy, including the Bristol-based tidal energy developer Marine Current Turbines, and accountancy software specialists Benchmark Software, in Somerset.

Marine Current Turbines is one of the UK's leading firms in developing tidal stream energy. It installed and is operating the world's first commercial scale, grid-connected tidal stream energy system in Northern Ireland's Strangford Lough, in 2008. The turbine has already exceeded 1,000 hours of operation, a first for any marine energy device. With investment from public and private sources including from the Carbon Trust and Siemens Energy, Marine Current Turbines (MCT) is set to deploy the first commercial tidal energy farm in UK waters by 2013.

Benchmark Software is one of the first small businesses in the UK to be awarded the Carbon Trust Standard for successfully measuring its carbon footprint, using the Carbon Trust Standard's online assessment service. It is now using this experience to integrate carbon measurement into its customer offering.

These innovative companies are backing the new Green Growth campaign by urging local businesses to place sustainability at the heart of their operations and capitalise on the £112 billion UK environmental market which is forecast to grow by 25% by 2015.

Martin Wright, managing director of MCT said: "The wave and tidal energy sector has tremendous potential for creating skilled jobs and high-value exports for the South West and UK as a whole; based on the fact that we're all moving into a low carbon economy. But these opportunities aren't limited to alternative energy specialists. All businesses can benefit from the green economy if they take the initiative today, rather than regret what could have been, tomorrow."

Simon Harvey, managing director of Benchmark Software said:
"Even for small enterprises such as ours there are rewards to be had for those with the foresight to plan for green growth, by building greener products and services into their core service offering. It's not just about cost-cutting and reputation enhancement. The green economy provides real opportunities for those prepared to innovate to increase their revenue and secure a sustainable, profitable future."

A number of other business leaders from around the country have thrown their weight behind the Carbon Trust's Green Growth campaign by calling on the government to remove regulatory barriers and provide the right incentive to encourage green growth, while recognising that ultimately the responsibility lies with business to show leadership.

Dr Stephen Wyatt, research and development manager, the Carbon Trust, said: "The recent quarterly GDP figures will spark new questions on where growth will come from. In my view, green growth is the only show in town. To ensure that the local economy fully benefits from this opportunity, business leaders need to place some smart early bets on the future. That's why we're launching a new Green Growth campaign, to help business leaders in the South West to identify and develop appropriate business strategies to exploit the green economy going forward."

The survey also found that most business decision makers in the South West are taking steps to cut energy costs (67%) and comply with low carbon regulations (59%). However these are tactical manoeuvres. Just 1 in 3 of the business decision-makers polled reports having a business strategy in place for green growth (31%).

Survey conducted on behalf of the Carbon Trust with 49 business people across the South West of England and 707 business decision makers across the UK as a whole. The Survey ran between 14 December 2010 and 4 January 2011 on the issue of growth in the green economy.

About the Carbon Trust
The Carbon Trust is a not-for-profit company with the mission to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy, providing specialist support to business and the public sector to help cut carbon emissions, save energy and commercialise low carbon technologies. By stimulating low carbon action we contribute to key UK goals of lower carbon emissions, the development of low carbon businesses, increased energy security and associated jobs.

The Carbon Trust Standard
500 organisations have achieved the Carbon Trust Standard since it was launched in June 2008. Collectively, the 500 Carbon Trust Standard holders have cut their emissions by 3.6m tonnes of CO2e. The 500 Carbon Trust Standard achievers have also cut their gas, electricity and fuel bills by over £165m. To date, the total carbon footprint certified by the Carbon Trust Standard is over 43 million tonnes of CO2e; equivalent to nearly 14% of the total carbon footprint of UK businesses and transport. All businesses and organisations, both in the UK and internationally, are eligible to apply for the Carbon Trust Standard including FTSEs, mid caps, SMEs and public sector organisations. Organisations that are awarded the Carbon Trust Standard hold it for a two year period and to maintain the certification they must reapply and demonstrate that they have continued to make year-on-year reductions in their carbon emissions.

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