Climate change presents real opportunities as well as challenges. As the New Anglia Clean Growth Taskforce prepares to meet for the first time, its Chair Pete Joyner talks about supporting businesses in the region to go green and developing practices that will deliver for the environment and the economy.
Clean growth is absolutely critical to our region's future prosperity, so the work of the New Anglia Clean Growth Taskforce will apply whether you are a large regional business or a smaller one. But SMEs still make up over 90 per cent of the economy and we understand how busy they are. Whether you are a hairdressers’ or a coffee shop or you run a garage or a consultancy business, you are a busy person. So, one of the things we have got to look at is how we engage with these people and make it as simple as possible for them to make changes.
Two thirds of our emissions in the UK come from either public or private sector organisations, so it is not simply an issue for the consumer – for you and I – and all the things we would do to reduce carbon emissions and bring about change. It’s also about how business can affect things and helping them to do that as really a priority for us.
We have some superb people on our Taskforce – from the private sector to bring us innovation and from the public sector to contribute their knowledge of working with environmental targets and organisations. The educational sector is also very important because we are looking at setting ourselves objectives early on which will have a real impact and the measure the change we make. One of these is ensuring that if we want the growth that we believe this region can deliver, we have got to have the workforce to support that. And we have some ideas about how we are going to push that forward.
The LEP recognises that clean growth has got to be at the heart of regional development in the next twenty years and we already have a lot of businesses that have really embraced that. Whether it’s in tourism or agriculture, they are constantly looking at how they have to reduce their carbon footprint, manage their water usage and cope with climate change. Then we have manufacturing businesses that want to reduce their waste and emissions.
There are two parts to this really. The first is around how you reduce what we emit and the second and most exciting part is how we then capitalise on some of the entrepreneurship in innovation we have got in our region. We need to work with academia, start-ups and other businesses to develop the technology that would not just affect Norfolk and Suffolk, but also have an impact on the rest of the UK and potentially the world.
We will be running a series of events this autumn and, of course, we have the catalyst of COP26 in November. You can find out more here