Green goods and services sector valued at £122bn and now employs almost one million people, government figures show
Record growth over the last year pushed the UK green goods and services market past the £122bn mark, according to new government figures that reveal the low carbon economy now employs almost one million people.
The sector grew 4.7 per cent against the 2009/10 figure of £116.8bn, providing an additional £5.4bn of economic activity as green industries continued to defy the sluggish progress made by the rest of the economy.
The new report, released earlier this week by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, also confirms that the UK comfortably outperformed the worldwide Low Carbon and Environmental Goods and Services (LCEGS) market, which expanded by 3.7 per cent to £3.3tr. Low carbon sales activities accounted from £1.6tr of this, around 48 per cent, with renewable energy clocking up £1tr, and environmental goods and services accounting for £700bn.
As such the UK secured a 3.7 per cent share of the global market and also retained its place as the sixth largest LCEGS sector in the world, behind the US with £645bn, China on £435bn, Japan with £205bn, India at just under £205bn, and Germany at £140bn.
The UK sits sixth in 18 of the 24 sub-sectors measured by the report, but showed particular strength in carbon financing and wave and tidal energy, where it ranked second and fifth in the world respectively.
Alternative fuels, building technologies, and wind energy formed the three largest components of the UK’s LCEGS sector, although carbon finance, wind, wave and tidal, and carbon capture and storage saw the highest year-on-year increases.
This strong performance helped the UK to an LCEGS export surplus of £5bn. Exports grew just under four per cent to £11.8bn and dwarfed the £6.8bn of imports, which showed a smaller increase of 3.1 per cent.
China is by far the largest destination for UK exports and the largest source of imports, purchasing £794m of UK goods and services and selling £464m – a surplus to the UK of £330m. The strength of the nation’s LCEGS exports is clearly demonstrated by the £188m it makes on trading with its next largest partner, Hong Kong, and the £193m it brings in from Spain, third on the list.
The number of UK companies involved in the LCEGS sector also grew by 0.1 per cent to just under 51,700, reversing a downwards trend that saw numbers fall by 1.2 per cent in 2008/09 and show zero growth the year before that.
However, employment jumped 2.8 per cent over the year to 939,627, which the report notes is “the first really positive sign of employment growth in the sector since the recession in 2008”.
Led by wind and carbon finance, the government expects the green economy to continue to expand, growing between 4.9 per cent and 5.5 per cent a year from 2011 to 2015.
Globally, Africa saw the highest growth in LCEGS with 6.5 per cent growth, although the report acknowledged this is from a low base. In comparison, Europe grew 3.9 per cent, just ahead of the Americas on 3.6 per cent, and Asia on 3.7 per cent.