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Britain has a competitive advantage in green products, the IPPR report shows



The UK enjoys a competitive advantage in a third of green products and services, positioning itself ahead in the global race to achieve net zero, according to a new report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a progressive thinktank.

Britain enjoys a competitive advantage in a third of green products and services and is positioning itself at the forefront of the global race to reach net zero, according to a new report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a progressive think tank.

Despite experiencing four decades of industrial decline, the IPPR emphasizes that British companies are well placed to produce essential green products such as electric trains and heat pump components. Britain excels at producing products and components used to monitor, measure and analyze industrial processes crucial to decarbonising the economy, including the electricity grid and renewable energy generation.

To further expand its green manufacturing capabilities, the IPPR suggests that the UK government should create mechanisms to support companies looking to diversify and improve their production. The report advocates “greening” aging industrial plants with state subsidies, allowing Britain to produce less carbon-intensive steel and reduce dependence on long-distance imports.

‘Onshore’ production of vital components would also shorten supply lines, making Britain more resilient to future shocks and spurring economic rejuvenation.

George Dibb, head of IPPR’s Center for Economic Justice, highlighted the opportunities for regional development: “Over the past thirty years we have fallen sharply behind our global competitors in the amount and types of things we actually make. That is bad for jobs, for living standards, for our security – and for our long-term economic strength as a country. Yet UK manufacturers still have a competitive advantage in making some of the products essential to a net-zero economy, and with the right government support we have the potential to lead in many more.”

The IPPR report identified 143 products directly linked to Net Zero technologies and found that Britain had a comparative advantage in a third of these. The report serves as guidance for ministers to identify areas that need support through grants.

However, a separate report from the all-party Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has raised concerns about Britain’s willingness to build climate-resilient infrastructure without substantial investment in the skills of the workforce. The PAC report identified significant skills gaps in project management and design, which were exacerbated by competition from major global development projects.

The PAC found that only 1,000 of the required 16,000 project professionals have received accreditation from the government’s project leadership academy. MPs highlighted the lack of monitoring and evaluation on major projects, with only 8% of the £432 billion spent on major projects in 2019 having robust impact evaluation plans.

The PAC concluded: “Decisions are made in the absence of evidence, unnecessarily compromising value for money.”

While the IPPR report paints an optimistic picture of the UK’s potential in green manufacturing, the PAC’s findings underline the urgent need for strategic investment in skills and project oversight to ensure Britain can take full advantage of its competitive advantages in the green economy.