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Shell Springboard Research: Climate Change to be £30B Opportunity for British Business

Growth in UK market size for climate change action over the next 5 years. Click to enlarge.

New research commissioned by Shell Springboard concludes that the challenge of tackling climate change could create a market of up to £30 billion (US$56 billion) for British business over the next ten years.

Assuming global action to stabilize emissions, the report estimates that the annual global expenditure on carbon emissions reduction will grow by between US$10 and $100 billion per year for the next 45 years and total $1 trillion over the first five years.

Our central estimate is that this market would have to grow by $70 billion a year for the next few decades, if greenhouse gas concentrations are to be stabilised.

Shell’s Springboard program, piloted in 2005, provides a financial boost to innovative, low-carbon business ideas from across the UK.

The research, carried out by independent consultancy Vivid Economics for Shell Springboard, quantifies for the first time the potential size of the market for businesses that develop technologies, products and services that help combat climate change. It also profiles SMEs (small and medium enterprises) which are already developing businesses in this new market.

The urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions offers opportunities to the nimble. There is now scope for a wide range of devices and services, which a decade ago would have made no economic sense, and for which there would have been no demand. Shell has created the Springboard programme to help people to grasp some of these opportunities, and to take the first steps towards turning their ideas into viable businesses and products.

—Lord Oxburgh, Chair of the Shell Springboard UK Judging panel

The report notes that, on the basis of the UK Government’s plans, the compliance market as well as the emerging voluntary market, the UK market alone will be worth £4 billion a year by 2010. It projects that the compliance market over the next 10 years will be worth around £30 billion or more.

The compliance market is growing rapidly because the government is tightening building standards, pushing renewable electricity and biofuel schemes, and tackling the energy efficiency of dwellings.

Although the market opportunity is large, the cost of tackling climate change is not unaffordable for the UK economy. If the average UK business met the environmental damage of its greenhouse gas emissions it would amount to less than 0.8% of its value added.

The research identifies major low-carbon opportunities for SMEs in a wide range of markets. The biggest identified UK markets for SMEs in 2010 will be:

  • Building regulations for commercial and industrial use: £950m (US$1.8 billion)
  • Renewable electricity: £800m (US$1.5 billion)
  • Renewable road transport fuels: £500m (US$927 million)
  • Domestic energy efficiency: £400m ($US742 million)
  • Building regulations for domestic use: £275m (US$510 million)

For business, tackling climate change is both a necessity and a huge opportunity. This creates a huge new opportunity for British business nationally and internationally. We have to step up to the challenge. Our small businesses and the scientific depth in our universities are going to be vital contributors.

—James Smith, Chairman of Shell UK



Rafael Seidl

As they say in Yorkshire: where there's muck there's brass.

It's much more productive to think of climate change as a business oportunity than as a burden on business. Sure, some established businesses will find that customer and/or legal requirements will interfere with their established business models. However, provided the screw is tightened at a manageable rate, new opportunities should dominate long-term business strategies.


This is the kind of news I would want to generate excitement on this website. Enough with all the Bush bashing and whining. The world we live in presents limitless opportunity for ideas to transfrom into businesses, and for consumers to make smart choices for their own well being. Those that are succesful will adapt and be better off for it. There's a huge market in the future thats up for grabs.


Business will find a way to profit from anything. And the profit margin usually is very high when customer is stupid and the product is non-existing. Horoscope writing and palm reading being prime examples.

To be honest, I do not really care how GB or EU governments will misspend their taxpayers money. But I do not want them to dictate to my government how to misspend my money. And of course, as any fraud of such magnitude, it will carry high price not only in wasted money and opportunity, but also in human lives and environmental damage. Proliferation to underdeveloped countries some GHG friendly technologies, such as diesel powered cars, nuclear power plants, and energy crops are just one example. These countries are incapable to treat their sewage, for God’s sake, how someone could think they can assure safe operation of nuclear plants, proper handling of radioactive wastes, environmentally responsible energy crop cultivation, or low tailpipe emissions (diesel soot is way more damaging to health then emission from dirtiest gasoline car)?

fyi CO2

It's good to hear the UK talking the talk. We desperately need more GHG business opportunity discussion on this side of the Atlantic, too.


I remember the Bush administration saying that Kyoto would be harmful to the U.S. economy. This implies just the opposite.


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