The Prime Minister has backed the UK’s green economy as an essential driver for growth in the coming years.
But he also warned that despite the UK’s position as a global leader in renewable technologies the country could not be complacent, with a “global race” underway to unlock the potential of the sector.
He was speaking at the launch of the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s Energy Efficiency Mission at the Royal Society in London yesterday.
“Make no mistake we are in a global race and the countries that succeed in that race, the economies in Europe that will prosper, are those that are the greenest and the most energy efficient,” he said.
“Energy consumption is set to grow by a third over the next two decades alone. And in a race for limited resources it is the energy efficient that will win that race.
“It is the businesses that are best insulated from energy price shocks who will be the most successful, it is the consumers who are the least vulnerable to energy prices whose household bills will be the lowest and who can be the most confident about their future.
“And yes, it is the countries that prioritise green energy that will secure the biggest share of jobs and growth in a global low carbon sector set to be worth $4tr by 2015.”
And Mr Cameron had some stern words for those who have opposed his focus on the environment, including members of his own party.
“So to those who say we just can't afford to prioritise green energy right now, my view is we can't afford not to,” he said.
“Far from being a drag on growth, making our energy sources more sustainable, our energy consumption more efficient, and our economy more resilient to energy price shocks - those things are a vital part of the growth and wealth that we need.”
Responding to Mr Cameron’s speech Rhian Kelly, CBI Director for Business Environment policy, said: “Businesses know that going green can boost growth. Our research shows that supporting the UK’s low-carbon economy with the right policies could potentially add £20bn to GDP by 2015.
“Britain must maximise these opportunities to become the leading destination for low-carbon investment and strengthen our exports of green goods and services to the rest of the world.”
John Alker, Director of Policy and Communications at the UK Green Building Council, said: “We shouldn't underestimate the importance of the PM nailing his colours to the mast on energy efficiency, which is hugely welcome. It gives industry more confidence that the Government does take this issue seriously, which is urgently needed if businesses are going to invest and innovate.
“Now Cameron needs to stand up to those in Government who simply don't "get it" and follow up the rhetoric with delivery.”