Natalie Bennett: When business rises to the green challenge we all prosper

Natalie Bennett
Natalie Bennett
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This edition of Yorkshire Vision offers an insight into just how much progress has been made across the county with a greener approach to business.

A lot of this is pure traditional common sense. Using fewer resources, using them well, being efficient, is something Yorkshire’s been known for over centuries.

But today, when we’re talking about environmental responsibility, we’re going much further.

We’re talking a transformation of the way we use natural and human resources, based on the understanding that we have to live within the limits of this one fragile planet, and that we’re currently butting up right against, and often exceeding, those limits.

Whether it is heating up our planet with greenhouse gases, turning our oceans into a plastic soup, smashing up the delicate ecological systems of our soils or obliterating natural habitats and decimating biodiversity, the state of our world indicates we need to change direction fast.

The state of our society, and our economy, are similarly dire. Inequality, the failure to provide jobs that you can build a life on and provide security for young and old, failure even to provide the basics of a warm, comfortable home for all – means social and economic responsibility demands changing direction too.

These three critical demands all head in the same direction – for environmentally friendly businesses are also good for our society, and our economy. They can create secure, sustainable jobs and create a rich, diverse ecosystem of opportunities; for green businesses need not just workers, but accountants and lawyers, signwriters and stationery suppliers, IT technicians and caterers.

Yorkshire is in a great position to benefit from these business opportunities, with the skills, the history of manufacturing and food growing, the tradition of driving political development and change, all of which are needed to be at the forefront.And the technology – particularly in renewable energy – has come on far faster, and got far cheaper, than many thought possible even a few years ago.

Yorkshire could be making the steel and manufacturing the turbines for innovative new tidal lagoons, with the technology being exported around the world.

With Britain producing only 60 per cent of the food we need, Yorkshire has enormous potential to grow far more, helping provide secure supplies. And we can use green spaces in our cities, towns and villages to grow for ourselves, families and communities.

With “reshoring” a growing trend, as the fragility of global supply chains links with rising developing world wages, Yorkshire is in a great place to see a restoration of manufacturing. We can and should be making more of the clothes on our backs, the furniture in our homes and workplaces.

And ensuring that everyone in Yorkshire has a warm, comfortable, affordable-to-heat home offers opportunities to many businesses. Energy-efficient homes and solar panels mean more money in people’s pockets and less to energy companies.

There are many uncertainties in the next few years in Britain. But there is certainty that businesses that look at what they’re doing now in the light of its environmental impacts, that consider what new opportunities they can develop through green technologies, that innovate and aspire, will flourish. And those who don’t, well, they’re failing themselves, their workers and their communities.

This supplement showcases some of the great work that is being done in the region by cutting-edge businesses. Congratulations to The Yorkshire Post for highlighting it, and providing inspiration for many others to follow.