Greening the UK economy could help reduce regional disparities and be good for the North East, according to a new report.
Regions with a productivity problem, like the North East, have the advantage of being more specialised in the technologies, goods and services needed to achieve the government’s net zero ambition to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere by 2050.
Such regions can benefit directly from investment in decarbonising sectors and indirectly from spill-over from investment and innovation elsewhere, says the report Growing Clean by the Resolution Foundation and the Centre for Economic Performance.
‘Urgent action is needed’ it says, ‘especially in surface transport; electricity supply; buildings; manufacturing and construction; and [greenhouse gas] removals – the top five sources of carbon dioxide abatement by 2050 under the Climate Change Committee’s balanced pathway to net zero.
‘The first four of these sectors will need to deliver the majority of economywide abatement required by 2030 to keep the UK on track to meet net zero by 2050, with removals rapidly scaled up from the 2030s,’ says the report.
It focuses specifically on zero emission passenger vehicles; wind (onshore and offshore), nuclear and grid flexibility within electricity supply; heat and buildings; and carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) spanning both manufacturing & construction and greenhouse gas removals.
Several of these are sectors in which the North East is already developing its capacity, including electric vehicles, offshore wind and CCUS. This website noted as song ago as last August that the green industrial revolution was a rare cause for optimism about the North East’s economic prospects.
The report notes that overall its analyses ‘suggest that doubling down on net zero capabilities in the UK as part of a coordinated growth policy could be consistent with addressing regional disparities in economic activity, since less productive regions appear to be more specialized in such technologies, goods and services (including within the high growth economy).
‘And our regional analysis of the economic returns to investments in innovation shows that investments in clean technologies have the potential to generate returns in less innovation-intense regions via two channels – investments made in those regions, and via spill-overs from investments made in more innovation intense regions.’