Green capitalism


The CBI is publicly calling for the government to invest more in greening the economy. This was prompted by the low percentage of spending on green issues in the UK's stimulus package. A contributory factor was no doubt the recent withdrawal of several major energy companies from investment in a range of renewable energy schemes, particularly wind farms.

Private sector companies are, by and large, good at spotting opportunities for profit and exploiting them. The message from Shell and others is that the market is not rigged sufficiently well in favour of otherwise uneconomic projects to make it attractive for them to participate. The message from the CBI, on the other hand, is that the government should pass more taxpayers' money the way of businesses to encourage them to invest in economically dubious activities. This doesn't sound like the best way of generating either jobs or prosperity (or, for that matter, power).

Martin Livermore is the Director of The Scientific Alliance