New DIT 'Green Trade' report says the UK's sustainable innovations can be exported around the world

Thu 22 Jul 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

Senior officials and advisors at the Department for International Trade (DIT) have published a new paper outlining the opportunities that moving to more sustainable trade practices can bring to UK businesses.

The ‘Green Trade’ report was written by the department’s Board of Trade – a group of senior ministers in the department and from across the devolved nations, as well as respected international trade experts.

In the paper’s foreword, international trade secretary Liz Truss said: “Green trade presents a major opportunity for the UK, creating high-value jobs in the low-carbon economy, driving sustainable growth in all corners of the nation, and fuelling technological innovations that can be exported to the world”.

Green leader

The UK is well-placed to bring together trade and environmental agendas as a global leader on decarbonisation and a champion for free trade, the Board conclude.

It gives the example of the UK Global Tariff which has removed tariffs on more than 100 green goods as evidence of the UK’s ambitions in green trade.

By 2050, there could be more than 1.2 million full-time workers directly employed in the UK’s low carbon industries in England, it claims, and the UK’s low carbon economy could grow by 11% per year.

Global role

The UK should also use its ‘Global Britain’ platform to encourage international ambitions on green trade, including through its convening power and role at the G7 and G20.

The report further claims that the UK should advocate for making green trade freer and fairer through ‘best in class’ trade agreements.

Protectionism warning

According to, the report cautions against “green protectionism” that would make it harder for the UK to export and import low-carbon technologies.

It calls for the UK to encourage other countries to cut tariffs on technologies for sectors such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and electric vehicles (EVs).

Carbon tax

The report argues that the UK should not implement a carbon border adjustment tax, however.

According to MSN, Liz Truss said the government has been considering introducing this if efforts to get an international deal combating climate change and carbon pricing do not succeed.


Greenpeace UK’s policy director Doug Parr labelled the report “greenwash”.

“Currently, half of the UK’s total carbon emissions are imported so it’s misleading to suggest that just harnessing a free market will help tackle the climate crisis,” he said.

“We’re all for green trade but only if it comes with restrictions on trade in fossil fuels and the rights polluting companies have to protect their interests and profits,” he added.

Ships and planes

With the UK hosting COP26 this year, the government has launched another green initiative in the shape of an inquiry by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) into how the shipping and aviation sectors can best achieve net zero emissions.

Shipinsight reports that the inquiry follows the recently published Transport Decarbonisation Plan and Jet Zero consultation, which outlined the government’s ambition for UK domestic aviation to be net zero by 2040.