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Can greening the economy drive productivity?

Academics from across Alliance Manchester Business School took part in the recent Manchester Festival of Climate Action, organised by The University of Manchester, which considered the challenges at the forefront of the climate crisis.

To coincide with the ongoing COP-26 conference, we are showcasing the video sessions involving all AMBS academics over the coming week. In this third film Bart van Ark, Professor of Productivity Studies, and Elvira Uyarra, Professor of Innovation Studies, discussed whether greening the economy can drive productivity. They were also joined for the session by Lauren Pamma, Programme Director at the Green Finance Institute, and Kevin Lambert, Resource Efficiency Lead at Manchester Growth Company.

Professor van Ark conceded that greening the economy was a complicated topic, not least in terms of its impact on business performance.

bart van ark

As he said: “To adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change we need to make investments in net zero and that is a key priority for government, business and society as a whole. But how much do we really know about the long-term effects of these kinds of investments on employment, investment and on productivity growth? Will the green economy generate returns which make these investments in green technology viable both from a private and public perspective, and what are the long term strategies needed? And what are the challenges and risks for businesses?”

Professor Uyarra added that the public sector also played a key role in terms of providing a “sound, coherent, stable and credible” environment for public policy that is long-term and which helps drive private sector investment.

Elvira Urraya from Alliance Manchester Business School

“The amounts of investment required to meet 2050 targets are huge in areas such as transport and buildings,” she said. “What are the technological solutions that can support the decarbonisation of transport? How do we know which activities are sustainable in terms of supporting the transition? And how do we guide investment?”

Watch Bart and Elvira's session from the Manchester Festival of Climate action below: