Green technology and law: an overview of the UK's environmental regime

Out-Law Guide | 25 Jan 2010 | 4:44 pm | 1 min. read

This guide is based on UK law. It was last reviewed in August 2011 .

As the world is increasingly reacting to climate change and environmental concerns, at an international level, a European level and through national governments, companies are facing the inevitable and rethinking how they do business.

Companies need to develop business strategies to ensure they assess the emerging risks and opportunities, and adapt to the challenges of operating in a low-carbon economy and in a business environment that is increasingly intolerant of excessive waste and the use of hazardous materials.

Drivers for greener business include:

  • Political and legal pressures: the requirements of legislation and Government policy;
  • Technological pressures: such as the contribution of IT equipment (particularly data centres) to CO2 emissions and the scope for greener IT to help other industries, businesses and consumers to reduce their impact on the environment; and
  • Economic and reputational pressures: including the cost savings that green IT can drive and the competitive edge 'being green' could bring (the corollary being the risk of polluters being named and shamed in league tables).

Among the economic benefits are tax breaks. Enhanced capital allowances are available to businesses for certain energy-saving technologies. The allowances enable a business to claim 100% first-year capital allowances on qualifying plant and machinery. The list of relevant technologies does not include IT products, but includes technologies that may be essential in a major IT system e.g. air conditioning.

Different businesses are affected in different ways, whether it is an IT equipment manufacturer, user or service provider.