Spencer Mahoney

Spencer Mahony

HM Consul and UKTI Regional Director for the South East United States

Part of Partners in Prosperity

22nd June 2012 USA

Rio+20: Making the case for a green economy

Mike Rosenfeld

 The following is a guest blog from UKTI Los Angeles Vice-Consul Mike Rosenfeld. Mike leads UKTI’s Clean Technology sector in the USA and has significant expertise in renewable energy and environmental technologies. He has served as Vice-Consul with UK Trade & Investment since 2003.

All eyes are on Rio de Janeiro this week as policymakers, business leaders and NGOs from around the world gather to discuss – and come to agreements on – how cross-cutting global issues such as food security, energy and sustainable economic development will be addressed collectively. Tackling these challenges and achieving sustainable economic growth in the most cost-effective and environmentally sensitive way will require coordinated, cooperative international efforts, which is why the UN Rio+20 Earth Summit has attracted thousands of delegates from around the world.

As UKTI’s lead officer for the clean technology sector in North America, I’m particularly interested to see how the concept of a “green economy” – one of the summit’s core topic areas – will be promoted and advanced. At the heart of the green economy agenda is the understanding that environmental and economic goals are complements and not substitutes, which is something the UK has strongly recognized and acted upon.

Amidst these tough economic times, Great Britain’s green goods and services sector still grew 5.4 percent last year and is now worth £122 billion. This is a telling illustration as to why all nations should consider and adopt green solutions as drivers for economic growth.

The potential economic benefits of greener goods and services are significant with the sector currently worth £3.2 trillion globally. The UK share of this promising sector is the 6th largest in the world, already employing 900,000 people.
The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) recently reported that Great Britain’s offshore wind power industry alone can create as many as 215,000 jobs and boost exports by up to £22.5 billion by 2030.

The Green Deal, the UK government’s initiative that will energy retrofit 26 million British buildings, is positioning the country as a global frontrunner in green building expertise, and more importantly, has the potential to create 100,000 supply chain jobs in five years.

And the low-carbon skillset and technologies of the UK are particularly sought-after as other nations also develop their green economies. For example, Glasgow-based Sgurr Energy is the engineer of record for the Cape Wind Project, the first major offshore wind project in the US. Arup, a UK-based design and engineering consultancy, is currently leading the engineering of a vital new intake tunnel at Lake Mead, the largest man-made reservoir in the US and a source of water for millions.

The business and economic case for spurring green growth is clear.

Collectively – the UK and our fellow nations at Rio+20 – must enable our businesses to innovate, invest and grow by providing them with coherent and long-term policy direction. As evidenced by our work thus far in the UK, it’s clear that putting low-carbon approaches at the forefront of national agendas spur economic growth, protect the environment and position countries for long-term success.

About Spencer Mahony

Spencer Mahony took up his posting as HM Consul and Regional Director, East Coast USA for UK Trade and Investment in December 2010. Prior to his current appointment, he spent…

Spencer Mahony took up his posting as HM Consul and Regional Director, East Coast USA for UK Trade and Investment in December 2010.

Prior to his current appointment, he spent three years as Head of UK Trade and Investment in western India based in Mumbai. He covered four states accounting for over 40% of India’s GDP and managed relations with many of India’s largest investors in the UK, including the Tata Group of companies.

On secondment to the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry he directed a joint UK government and industry investigation into how the UK retains its position as a world class destination for biomedical research.

At the Department of Business, he held policy positions in energy security, regional economic development and the department’s strategy unit. He participated in EU employment law negotiations and transposed EU legislation into UK law. He was Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the Minister of State for Industry and the Regions and Deputy Minister for Women and Equality.

He has also worked at the British Embassy in Beijing and was a member of the JET programme.

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