Need green agenda for progressive economy & competitive advantage

April 18th, 2012 by KPMG

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg visited KMPG offices recently to launch his ‘green growth‘ initiative.

Mr. Clegg made it clear that he regards ‘green’ as a source of competitive advantage. It is not a handicap or an extra cost that will hold us back. Green technology properly embraced can help both businesses to make and consumers to save money. There are a number of government initiatives under way to help make that happen, with a particular focus on consumer households of modest means.

Mr Clegg referred to the importance of “natural capital”. He will be representing the UK at the Rio+20 summit in the summer where, he said, he will be “pushing for greater global protections for our natural assets.”  This is a really important area. We have heard recently, for example, about the danger to bees and the cost to farmers if they have to pollinate their crops without them.

KPMG has been working with a number of clients to help them understand natural capital – for example, developing the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s training modules on valuing eco-systems.

The Deputy Prime Minister’s speech made reference to trialling a project where consumers are told how much energy other, similar households use.  This seems to be the “nudge” philosophy in action.  The idea, made famous in the book by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, is that the most effective way of influencing someone’s behaviour is by giving them a nudge, in this instance showing them what other people are doing.

We have heard a lot about the UK Coalition government’s interest in this but to see the concept actually entering UK government policy is fascinating.

Overall, a strong message has been sent out about the importance of the green agenda.  If we want a progressive economy and a progressive society, we cannot afford to ignore it.

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Author Vincent Neate is head of KPMG’s UK Climate and Sustainability practice.

 

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