Green Week: Future Economy

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 Green Week LogosGreen Week on Place North West, published in association with the Environment Agency, Envirolink Northwest and Hill Dickinson

The movement of the low carbon economy into the mainstream presents an abundance of growth opportunities for North West businesses, according to professional support groups Pro Manchester and Professional Liverpool.

The two organisations are working on a combined report along with the North West Development Agency to see how financial and professional services can tap into the increasing demand for green industries and reduce their collective carbon footprint.

Paul Johnson, partner at law firm Cobbetts is one of the authors of the forthcoming Pro Manchester and Professional Liverpool report. He says: "In general terms from our perspective there's a massive opportunity to create jobs as beusiness changes how it operates at a fundamental level."

Areas of potential growth include new technology, carbon capture from existing power stations, and offshore windfarms where the Government says 400,000 new jobs could be created in constructing and installing turbines. On the professional and financial side, the regulatory landscape surrounding compliance, audits and permits such as Carbon Reduction Commitment present new business streams. The increasing move to privately financed agreements with councils over waste management and energy supply allow banks to tap into ready revenue streams.

The Government estimates there is a £30bn business opportunity for UK firms in the next ten years from meeting the climate change challenge.

Last year the NWDA set up the Carbon Challenge Fund as part of the North West Climate Change Action Plan, setting out the region's mission to become the leader on climate change by 2020.

Under the Climate Change Act, North West emissions will have to be cut from 60m tones annually by 15-20 million tonnes by 2020.

Johnson's report will set out to identify what advice, products and services financial and professional firms currently offer and explore how these might be developed in the future.

Employers will be invited to complete an online questionnaire and take part in a series of in-depth interviews. The research will cover carbon credits and carbon trading, carbon reduction project funding and compliance with carbon reduction and energy efficiency schemes.

The research will also explore how accountants, lawyers, surveyors, bankers and consultants can help businesses in the North West to meet the requirements of the green agenda by reducing their carbon footprint and generating additional jobs and revenue using green technologies.

Johnson added: "We have to engage with this low carbon agenda because we are facing an energy crunch by 2015 when fossil fuel production peaks and we begin to run out.

"We know that low carbon will become mainstream and we need to agree a series of actions as a business community to drive the region forward to become a leader in this field."

The report is due out in the summer.

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