By Max Clarke

The Green Economy Council is holding its first meeting today to discuss how government and industry can work together to support the transition to a green, low carbon economy and minimise the costs for business while maximising the opportunities.

A group of high level business leaders from a cross-section of industries and sectors will advise government on green and green growth policies such as infrastructure, innovation, investment, and unnecessary regulation.

The Council will uniquely bring together Ministers from three key departments — the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Among the key issues on today’s agenda will be the Green Economy Roadmap, which is being developed by all three departments and will be published in the spring. This will set out the Government’s long term strategy on climate change and the environment.

Business Secretary Vince Cable chaired the first meeting. He said:

“The transition to a green economy brings both opportunities and challenges that we need to tackle now to achieve sustainable growth and meet climate change targets.

“I’m delighted that we have attracted top business leaders from key sectors to join us on the Green Economy Council and help us develop these policies.

“We need to minimise the burdens on business and industry during this transition, while we create the necessary conditions for green growth and investment in the green economy.”

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said:

“If we don’t get off the oil hook we risk getting buffeted by each and every oil spike, damaging our economic and energy security.

“We want to work with Britain’s industry experts to make green jobs and investment come to the UK. We can be a world-leading low carbon economy, but we need to get ahead of the likes of China who are closing down on us fast.

“The Coalition is putting in place the framework for significant low carbon investment, including reforming the electricity market, setting up the Green Investment Bank, and legislating for the Green Deal.”

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said:

“Economic growth and protecting the natural environment must go hand-in-hand. More sustainable use of natural resources will help to reduce business costs, while planning for the likely impacts of climate change will help businesses to increase their resilience and also create new markets and jobs.

“The Green Economy Council is an opportunity to work with top industry figures for the good of both businesses and the environment.”

Kate Craig-Wood, Managing Director of Memset, a managed hosting and cloud computing provider, and Chair of Intellect’s Climate Change Group, said:

“The Green Economy Council is a welcome and long overdue initiative. The Government, through the Council, need to understand the issues that SMEs in the high-tech sector face and the important role they can play in achieving sustainable growth. That’s a message I’m happy to help convey."

Dr Henry Winand, CEO of Intelligent Energy said:

“Further accelerating the commercial growth of low carbon business and the widespread adoption of cleaner, more efficient technologies in the UK will benefit greatly from the creation of the Green Economy Council.

“A forum for business and industry leaders to engage regularly with the Ministers of three key government departments, to share vision, exchange ideas and develop strategy, represents an unprecedented opportunity to help shape future Government policy.”

Nigel Keen, Director Property Services and Property and Development, John Lewis Partnership said:

"If the economy is to grow sustainably out of recession, it is important that Government, businesses and their employees work together. We therefore welcome the opportunity to engage on this agenda."

Andy Reynolds-Smith - Divisional Chief Executive, GKN, said:

“A green economy is the future, it is crucial that in the UK we develop and sustain our industrial capabilities to compete globally. With this in mind, GKN very much welcomes the creation of the Green Economy Council and its ambition to take a leading role in the development of the green economy in the UK.

“Almost every engineering and manufacturing initiative has an environmental dimension to it these days. GKN will look to the Council to take a dominant role in the co-ordination and development of cross-cutting Whitehall policy, legislation and investment that will allow UK industry to compete effectively and develop a capability that will allow it to exploit opportunities at home and globally. I very much look forward to working closely with BIS, DECC and DEFRA in achieving this.”

Gearoid Lane, Managing Director, New Markets, Centrica said:

“The green economy will be a very significant platform for growth, offering the prospect of many thousands of new jobs. Over the next two years alone, in British Gas we will be taking on an additional 2,900 people into ‘green collar’ roles. I am delighted to join the Green Economy Council, which I hope will be able to play a proactive role in advising Government on how to realise the benefits available for the UK.”

Dan Labbad, CEO Europe, Middle East and Africa, Lend Lease said:

“From the perspective of the property sector, there are huge opportunities to significantly contribute to greening the UK economy. Greening both new and existing buildings will require the right conditions, removing confusion and creating a platform for both investment and innovation. This will need focussed collaboration between government and business. For this reason, the creation of the Green Economy Council is a welcome development."

Ian Goodfellow, Managing Director, Shanks plc and Chairman, Environmental Services Association said:

“The waste management industry has shown how the private sector can deliver investment, growth, and higher environmental standards such as more recycling all at the same time. We want to do more, but need a smart, stable policy framework to do so. I’m looking forward to ensuring that the Green Economy Council is focused on delivering this.”

Stephen Leonard, Chief Executive, IBM UK & Ireland said:

"We believe the imperative for sustainable action is strong, but sustainability has to be balanced across the social and economic aspects of society as well as environmental.

"No one organisation can achieve this on their own and there is a growing need for collaboration between businesses and government to create a shared vision. This vision will aim to drive the right investments and create a common strategy across all aspects of sustainability to maximise opportunities for the UK."