Rapid steps needed for Britain to compete in green industrial revolution - IPPR says

Britain has a chance to compete in the green industrial revolution, but only if the government takes rapid steps to help shore up its industry, according to an important new report.

The analysis from The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) thinktank reveals that while the UK has deindustrialised faster than any other comparable nation in the developed world, it still has a chance to rebuild its manufacturing base and compete on the green technologies needed to reach net zero.

The new report comes as countries around the world compete to dominate green technologies such as electric cars, solar panels and wind turbines.

On Tuesday, the White House imposed 100% tariffs on imports of Chinese electric vehicles, as well as 50% tariffs on Chinese solar panels. The US and China have both introduced vast subsidy schemes intended to buoy up their green manufacturing.

In the UK, despite various government pledges to "level up" and introduce "industrial strategy" schemes, there is nothing analogous to the schemes in the US, China or, for that matter, the EU.

An advantage in certain sectors

The new IPPR analysis is among the first attempts to pinpoint which sectors in Britain's economy have a chance of competing on a global basis. It finds that while the UK has indeed deindustrialised far more quickly than other G7 nations, it still has a comparative advantage in certain sectors.

These include the manufacture of heat pumps, wind turbines and green transport, including electric cars and trains.

The analysis will be closely watched, as the IPPR is seen as the leading left-leaning thinktank in the UK, with close links to the Labour Party. Although Rachel Reeves has ditched her party's pledge to increase green investment to £28bn, she and her colleagues are understood to be eagerly awaiting the IPPR report as she builds her own plan for UK industry.

George Dibb, IPPR's associate director for economic policy, said: "We've identified over 150 different products that are vital to the net zero transition. The UK already has a competitive edge in various of them compared to other countries. So we need to take those but we need to build on that to need to go further.

"We highlight three areas in particular: heat pumps, green transport, and wind. In those three sectors - that's where the UK economy is particularly well placed to take advantage of those future facing growth opportunities.

He added: "There's a race towards net zero. The US, Europe and China are all fighting it out for this investment. Companies need to know the UK is a place to go. So one of the things that we need [from the government] is a real industrial strategy."

The political reaction

Labour's shadow secretary for energy security and net zero, Ed Miliband, said: "With our abundant natural resources, Britain can be a world leader in green industries. But we are being let down by a clown car government that is letting jobs go overseas and waving the white flag for British industries.

"Labour says it is time for a new era of industrial policy- we unapologetically care about what Britain makes, where we make it, and how we make it. That is why we will set up GB Energy, a publicly owned energy company, and a National Wealth Fund to invest in rebuilding the strength of our national industries."