Red tape stifles low carbon industries

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The Independent Online

A tangle of red tape and bureaucracy is preventing a move to a low carbon economy and putting job creation in low carbon industries at risk, a new report says.

The Work Foundation report A 2020 Low Carbon Economy, to be released today, is sharply critical of a number of agencies and what it sees as the lack of a clear Government commitment to the project. It also calls for an urgent audit of public spending on low carbon projects and warns that businesses and investors are reluctant to invest in the sector because they remain unsure of the Government's intentions.

The report further says that Britain is in danger of losing its competitive edge in low carbon technology. It warns that a failure by business – unsure of Government policy – to demand skilled labour in low carbon activities has led to universities and other training institutions not offering the sort of training that low carbon workers need.

The report's author, Charles Levy, said: "Current public policy and financial support for the low carbon economy is complex and highly nuanced.

More than £2bn of support for these activities was announced by the previous Government in the past three years. But it is hard to establish if this is new funding or just reallocation of already committed monies."

His report says moves to create a low carbon services sector, or manufacturing-led growth in low carbon activities, could create huge numbers of jobs. Reducing carbon through the implementation of existing and developing technologies could also help.

But Mr Levy said: "We can expect the implementation of low carbon technologies to create large numbers of relatively low-skilled jobs. However, urgent action is still required to support the innovative activities which could create many of the highly skilled jobs of the future."

The report is part of the Work Foundation's Knowledge Economy Programme which aims to set out a credible view of a balanced and sustainable economy in 2020 and describe the options for Government organisations and institutions for getting there.

Other areas being looked at are energy, healthcare, creative and cultural services, and high-technology manufacturing and services.