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Obama green energy plan challenges UK

The UK must respond quickly to the “green jobs” agenda set to be established by Barack Obama, the US President Elect, the Environmental Industries Commission has warned.

Mr Obama’s New Energy for America plan includes investing $150 billion over the next 10 years in order to create five million green collar jobs by 2020.

The US plan also aims to reduce electricity demand by 15 per cent by 2020 and ensure 10 per cent of electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012 and 25 per cent by 2025.

An economy-wide cap-and-trade programme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 per cent by 2050 will also be introduced. There will also be a new grant programme for early adopters of new building codes that prioritise energy efficiency.

Adrian Wilkes, EIC chairman, said: “Obama has set out a comprehensive and exciting set of policies to support the USA in the transition to a low carbon and resource efficient economy.

'This is a warning to Gordon Brown and Peter Mandleson that the UK risks falling behind in the race to develop the environmental technologies of the future.

“The Government must back UK companies to seize the opportunity to lead the world in environmental technologies, or else millions of jobs that could have been created in the UK will go abroad to countries like the US that are putting in place comprehensive support programmes.”

The EIC represents 330 companies across the UK’s environmental technology sector with a quarter of those involved in sustainable building and energy efficiency.

Prof Tim Dwyer, from the Department of Engineering Systems at London South Bank University, said the President elect's fresh approach could add renewed momentum to the drive for green building not just in the US, but in the rest of the world.

He said: 'There has been a 'ground-up' approach to develop environmentally responsible buildings and systems with enthusiastic support from selected US Government Agencies as well as importantly from such societies as ASHRAE.

'Obama's initial programme will provide an essential 'top-down' boost to these developments with a swathe of funding promises that will undoubtedly affect not only the US domestic R&D but also the increasingly global environmental market - both in a very positive way.'