UK green spending worst of major European nations

Analysis by Greenpeace has shown the UK lagging behind its Western European neighbours when it comes to investment in green technologies.

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Despite the country’s claims to be a ‘world leader’ in green energy and transport, figures show UK green spending bottom of the table of the five biggest Western European economies, behind France, Germany, Spain and Italy. The analysis was based on the IEA’s Government Energy Spending Tracker, which looked at capital spending between 2020 and 2023.

- Greenpeace

Greenpeace found that Italy spent over three and a half times as much as the UK on low carbon and energy efficient transport, a total of $47.8bn compared to the UK’s $13.1bn, with Germany spending almost 3 times as much ($38.1bn). France, a country with a nearly identical population size as the UK, spent almost twice as much on green spending as a whole per capita ($952.40) compared to the UK ($494.43), which also came bottom of the list when it came to fuels and technology innovation. 

“It’s clear that despite the government’s bluster, we are utterly failing on the world stage when it comes to green investment,” said Greenpeace UK climate campaigner, Georgia Whitaker. “Not only are the US and China leaving us in the dust in the race on green technology, we’re also doing terribly compared to our European neighbours. 


“We urgently need a bold green industrial strategy to boost our flailing economy, help ordinary people with the cost of living, and tackle the climate crisis. Green infrastructure investment, with a focus on renewable energy, insulating our homes and making transport greener would do just that.”

According to Bob Ward, policy and communications director at LSE’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, the lack of investment is linked to the UK’s persistent productivity issues in recent times.

“There is now very clear evidence that the UK has been investing much less than its competitors across a range of areas, including on tackling climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental degradation,” said Ward.

“This low investment explains why productivity has stagnated in the UK and growth has been so feeble. It also explains why our homes and businesses are vulnerable to climate change impacts, our countryside and seas are becoming depleted of wildlife, our cities have dirty air, and our rivers and beaches are covered in sewage.”