UCL Public Policy


Green Economy Policy Commission

The UCL Green Economy Policy Commission brought together academics with expertise in economics, the built environment, engineering, political science, innovation and resource efficiency.

Greening the Recovery cover teaser

10 May 2013

The UCL Green Economy Policy Commission brought together academics with expertise in economics, the built environment, engineering, political science, innovation and resource efficiency to consider how the UK might implement policies that will support a ‘green economy' – that is, an economy which is low-carbon, resource-efficient and supports a healthy, diverse environment and a high quality of life.

Project information  

Funding Source: UCL Public Policy
Year: September 2012 to December 2013



  • Professor Paul Ekins (Chair), Professor of Resources
  • Environmental Policy and Director, UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources Commissioners  


  • Professor Michelle Baddeley, Professor in Economics and Finance of the Built Environment, Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management 
  • Professor Francesca Medda, Professor in Transport and Infrastructure Studies, UCL Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering 
  • Dr Lars Nesheim, Reader in Economics, UCL Economics 
  • Professor Slavo Radosevic, Professor of Industry and Innovation Studies, UCL School of East European and Slavonic Studies UCL 
  • Dimitri Zenghelis, Co-Head, Policy, LSE Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment 
  • Professor Tom Burke CBE, Visiting Professor to Centre for Law and the Environment, UCL Laws 
  • Michael Jacobs, Visiting Professor, UCL Political Science 
  • Jonathon Porritt, Visiting Professor, UCL Office of the Vice-Provost (Research) 

Senior Special Adviser  

  • Will McDowall, Research Associate in Bioenergy & Hydrogen, UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources 


By adopting multiple perspectives and a range of expertise, the Commission sought to explore the frameworks and high-level policy approaches by which the Government could pursue a green economy and ensure the UK’s international competitiveness in terms of innovation and infrastructure development. 

The Commission also engaged politicians, policymakers and business representatives in its discussions. 

The Commission concludes that: a new information system on material and resource use in the economy is needed; that the development of infrastructure to support the deployment of low-carbon technology should be a priority; that Government has an important role in driving green innovation through an active green industrial strategy; and that a clear long-term pathway should be set to encourage business investment in the green economy. 

As the UK starts to show signs of economic recovery, the time is right for the government to accelerate that recovery by setting out a coherent economic strategy for the 21st century, one rooted in resource efficiency, climate stability and environmental quality. 

The UCL Green Economy Policy Commission was supported by UCL Public Policy, which seeks to bring UCL's academic expertise to bear on pressing public policy challenges by integrating knowledge and evidence from across disciplines to inform policy. 

Headline findings

  • There is currently a window of opportunity to put the UK economy decisively on a trajectory towards low-carbon prosperity, resource security and environmental quality: interest rates are low and, with still under-utilised resources, the benefits of stimulating directed investment can be large. 
  • A green economy strategy can strengthen the UK economy by addressing major long-term weaknesses, particularly under-investment in infrastructure and under-performance in innovation. A credible, long-term strategy, supported by environmental tax reform, can thus deliver a more soundly-based recovery, economically as well as environmentally. 
  • Government should take a more proactive, strategic approach to driving green innovation. A green industrial strategy can help to strengthen the UK innovation system and secure comparative advantage in key sectors and areas of technology that enhance resource productivity, but global competition in these areas is intensifying. 
  • Government should adopt a clearer approach to prioritisation of key infrastructure projects, and ensure that infrastructure investments are compatible with long-term green economy objectives. Going beyond the undifferentiated infrastructure list in the UK Infrastructure Plan, the Government needs to identify what green infrastructure investments are required and prioritise these accordingly in order to ensure policy clarity and credibility. 
  • A new information infrastructure is required to facilitate the evolution of a greener economy. Current national accounting practices and corporate reporting rules were largely developed at a time when the economic and social importance of environment and resource issues was less well recognised than it is today. Government should develop comprehensive natural capital and material flow accounts for the UK economy. 

Final report: Greening the Recovery (pdf) →

Outputs and impact

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