Think tank calls for investment in green economy

The north’s economy may be stagnating but businesses with green credentials can still enjoy unprecedented levels of growth, according to an environmental campaigner.

A report from environmental think tank Green Alliance predicts that the low-carbon economy across Northern Ireland and Britain will have grown by 40 per cent in the seven years to 2014.

The report says that in Northern Ireland there are now 31,700 low-carbon and environmental jobs than in motor trades, financial services and telecommunications combined.

The research reveals that investment in the north’s renewable-energy sector topped £180 million and created 767 jobs.

It shows that 11 per cent of electricity used in the north is from renewable sources. This is about half the proportion in Scotland but ahead of Wales and England.

However, in terms of investment in renewables, the report reveals that £100 per head of population was spent developing green electricity.

This puts the north behind Wales (£147) and Scotland (£325) but ahead of England (£85).

Malachy Campbell, regional policy officer with conservation body WWF, said the figures supported his organisation’s call for the Stormont executive to prioritise the development of a low-carbon economy.

“Hopefully this research – which illustrates the importance of and opportunities offered by developing a green, low-carbon economy – will make this a higher priority for our politicians,” he said.

Mr Campbell said many new and established companies across the north were beginning to realise the potential of the green economy.

“In times of difficulty for more traditional industries Northern Ireland needs to grasp the opportunities offered by a low-carbon economy as a matter of urgency,” he said.