Can CSR Help Beat the UK Deficit?

UK businesses with a CSR focus on the environment are urging the UK Chancellor to set out a strategy for green growth.

Led by the Aldersgate Group, a high-powered environmental coalition, businesses, NGOs and MPs, want the strategy included in the Budget later this month.

All believe that such a strategy would reduce the budget deficit, push economic recovery and create jobs. The group fears the UK will be left behind as other nations put plans in place to attract green investment.

Although investment in CSR by individual companies is important, firms also need a strong policy framework.

The Aldersgate Group points out that governments around the world are working hard to attract global investment in environmental technologies. It gives the example of China’s Five Year Plan for a ‘clean revolution’ in its economic development.

Companies, NGOs and investors in the environmental agenda believe that this gives an even greater incentive for a UK green growth strategy.

The government needs to push sectors with competitive advantages. This should go beyond what are traditionally considered environmental industries, to encompass automotive and construction. Both of these industries include companies with strong CSR programmes and have made progress in recent years in incorporating elements of the green agenda. (Such as reducing waste to landfill in the case of the construction sector).

The Aldersgate Group also highlighted a UN study, published last week, which analysed how a global investment of 2% of GDP in the green economy could lead to economic growth. The study argued that we could have our cake and eat it when it came to the environment and economic growth. Economic growth does not have to come at the expense of the environment and sustainability.

The study instead claims that green investments would produce a higher rate of GDP growth over the next six years.

The UK Chancellor has already said that he wants this budget to be a ‘budget for growth’, businesses committed to the environmental importance of CSR want it to be a ‘budget for green growth’.

Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group, said: The UK needs an explicit strategy to take advantage of the global shift to a green economy; driving jobs and exports. Cuts alone will not deliver a competitive economy.”

He added that acting early in this area will be a ‘massive driver for job creation and can provide the foundations to drive a dynamic economic recovery.’

The comments come as the Aldersgate Group plans to release a report, Greening the Economy: A strategy for growth, jobs and success.

This says that the UK needs to be made more sustainable, with greater priority given to energy efficiency and technology which will ‘green’ existing industries. With the UK economy in dire straits this is a message we can’t afford to ignore.

Photo credit: Sebilden