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20 July 2010

Economic growth and carbon targets at risk from government cuts

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Climate Change Committee report says R&D funding must be a priority in UK

The government runs the risk of jeopardising long-term economic growth and missing its climate targets if it withdraws vital funding from low-carbon technology research and development, warns a new report.

Building a low-carbon economy – the UK’s innovation challenge has been published by a panel of top scientists at the Committee for Climate Change (CCC), formed last year to advise the government on its carbon budgets.

The report warns that “without government support, a range of essential low-carbon technologies are likely to get stuck in a ‘valley of death’… and will fail to make it to market.”

The Committee concludes that any reduction in current funding levels (which it estimates at £550m per year) would increase the risk of missing carbon budgets and would see the UK losing out on critical opportunities to build a green economy.

The report also recommends an overhaul of the funding arrangements for green tech, not just to ensure the money keeps flowing but to simplify the complex institutional landscape that “can be difficult for business to navigate”.

A strengthened institutional framework – with clear objectives, desired outcomes and responsibilities, and improved monitoring and information flows – is required to ensure that public money is well spent and to increase investor confidence, says the report.

“We urge the Government to put the appropriate low-carbon technology support arrangements in place to unlock environmental and wider economic benefits,” said professor Julia King, a member of the Committee.

The report has been welcomed by the Government’s chief scientific adviser, professor Sir John Beddington.

“Innovation will be enormously important if the UK is to meet its climate change goals, and to do so affordably,” said Sir John. “We need to develop and deploy the most promising low carbon technologies quickly across all sectors. In times of austerity we must also make sure we invest public money to maximum effect.”


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