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Aldersgate Group Manifesto 2017: A healthy environment, a competitive economy

16th May 2017

Today the Aldersgate Group publishes a manifesto report, A healthy environment, a competitive economy, setting out policy priorities for the new government. The report highlights the growing importance of the low carbon economy to the UK’s competitiveness and urges the new government to put ambitious environmental and climate policy at the heart of its programme as the UK leaves the EU. 

The UK faces several environmental challenges from the growing impacts of climate change on its infrastructure to the degradation of key parts of its environment such as soil. Tackling these environmental challenges effectively will provide economic as well as environmental benefits for the UK. The Aldersgate Group manifesto therefore calls for the next government to:

  • Publish a detailed Clean Growth Plan without delay to attract greater levels of affordable private sector investment in energy efficient buildings, low carbon energy and transport infrastructure. This will help deliver the UK’s emissions reduction commitments under the fifth carbon budget in a timely and affordable way and grow supply chains;
  • Put in place a cross-departmental resource efficiency policy to drive better management of resources across the economy and encourage greater use of secondary materials;
  • Improve the state of the UK’s natural environment via the prompt publication of a 25 Year Plan for the Environment;
  • Develop an industrial strategy to build on the UK’s strengths in the low carbon and resource efficient sectors and support continued growth and job creation in its supply chains;
  • Develop a new finance strategy to increase the levels of private investment flowing into the UK’s modern, green infrastructure, new technologies and innovative business models.

Policies such as the Climate Change Act have already helped to cut carbon emissions, reduce household energy bills in real terms [1], reduce the cost of new technologies like offshore wind and deliver growth in new industries. The Office of National Statistics estimates that the UK’s low carbon and renewable energy economy employed some 432,000 people in 2015 and delivered a turnover of more than £77bn. [2] Critically, a lot of this growth is taking place in parts of the country that need it the most such as the North of England and the Solent area. [3]

UK businesses have strengths in numerous areas of the low carbon economy such as the manufacturing of ultra-low emission cars and wind turbines, expertise in energy efficiency services and engineering, leading cutting edge pilots in resource efficiency and natural capital and the provision of legal and financial services for clean energy projects worldwide. Going forward, the export potential for UK businesses is significant, with estimates that the low carbon economy could grow from 2% of the UK’s GDP today to 8% by 2030. [4]

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “As the new government negotiates the UK’s departure from the EU, it should not neglect the importance of putting forward an ambitious low carbon and environmental policy. The UK has significant strengths across the low carbon economy, a market which is already worth over $5.5tn globally [5] and is rapidly growing following the Paris Agreement on climate change. The next five years are a unique opportunity to consolidate the UK’s competitive advantages and put its businesses in the best possible position to tap into growing export opportunities.”

Steve Waygood, Chief Responsible Investment Officer at Aviva Investors said: “We are calling for the creation of public league tables, ranking the performance of companies on a range of sustainability issues, including climate change. Providing ambitious and clear low carbon policies in the next parliament and improving the disclosure of corporate information relating to climate risks will be essential to increase affordable private investment. We need policies to direct capital towards the resource efficient and low carbon infrastructure that the UK so urgently needs to build in order to maintain a globally competitive and resilient economy.” 

Jens Tommerup, CEO at MHI Vestas Offshore Wind said, “We support the Aldersgate Group in their calls for a broad political consensus in the UK around the need for a renewed focus on the transition to a low carbon world, and the great opportunities this presents a new Government after 8th June and the people and businesses of the UK. Offshore wind in particular is demonstrating a compelling proposition, accelerated cost reduction - on track to be the lowest cost large scale generating technology by the early/mid-2020s-, whilst at the same time delivering industrialisation and valuable jobs the length and breadth of Britain.”

Chris Newsome, Director of Asset Management for Anglian Water and member of the Green Construction Board said: “As highlighted in the Infrastructure Carbon Review, infrastructure is responsible for over half of the UK’s carbon emissions. We fully support the Aldersgate Group’s manifesto released today, and their aligned efforts to reduce carbon and cost within infrastructure through innovation and collaboration with the supply chain. The manifesto will undoubtedly drive the sustainability agenda and influence future policy."

"It’s through coalitions such as the Aldersgate Group that Anglian Water aims to provide leadership, practical advice and engage with other companies looking to deliver reduced carbon and reduced cost in sustainable growth.”

Nigel Stansfield, President at Interface Europe, Middle East and Africa said: “Our Mission Zero commitment has reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 98% across our EMEA operations since we started our sustainability journey in 1996. While companies like ours continue to lead the way, governments at both a national and EU level can accelerate moves to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels by encouraging transparency around the environmental impact of products, and introducing measures to change buyer behaviour in favour of those that are low carbon.”

Julia Barrett, Director at Willmott Dixon Re-Thinking Limited said: “The construction industry is willing to invest in research, innovation and skills development to find the solutions for an affordable low-carbon future. But, we need to be confident that the government is taking a long-term policy approach that will support spending on resource efficiency, energy efficiency and low carbon infrastructure.”

Mary Thorogood, Stakeholder Relations Adviser at Vattenfall UK said: “Vattenfall supports the Aldersgate Group’s call for the next government to quickly publish a detailed Clean Growth Plan. The publication of a supportive plan will provide certainty for future low cost onshore and offshore wind projects.  These long-term market signals will encourage Vattenfall’s continued investment and job creation in the UK.”

David Symons, Director of Sustainability at WSP said: “A low carbon, resilient and prosperous United Kingdom is key for WSP and our business.  We look to the next government to deliver world class, ambitious programmes that support our own Future Ready ambitions.”

Sue Riddlestone OBE, Chief Executive at Bioregional EST said: "Britain's place in the world, and the strength and sustainability of its economy, now depend on how well we look after our environment and the planet. So, too, does the health and long term prosperity of our people. Deep down, more and more of us know that. Voters and politicians must keep that front of mind during this election campaign."

Peter Young, Trustee of the Wildlife Trusts said: “The next 5 years will see coherent and far-sighted environmental policy as an increasing necessity to underpin our future economic success. It is vital that all parties are explicit in demonstrating their commitments to decarbonise, use resources efficiently and enhance our natural capital. Without heeding the importance of these issues to secure a strong UK economy and international trading position, claims to improve UK prosperity and society will be hollow."


[1]: Committee on Climate Change (March 2017) Energy Prices and Bills – impacts of meeting carbon budgets. Improvements in energy efficiency have saved the typical household around £290 per year since 2008 as demand for electricity and gas has reduced, more than offsetting the price of low carbon policies and network costs.

[2]: ONS (6 April 2017) "UK environmental accounts: Low carbon and renewable energy economy survey, final estimates: 2015"

[3]: Aldersgate Group (September 2016) Setting the pace: Northern England’s low carbon economy. In 2013, there were already 136,000 people working in the low carbon economy in the North and this is set to grow with major ongoing investments such as those from Siemens, ABP and DONG Energy at Green Port Hull. On the Isle of Wight, MHI Vestas’ investment in an offshore wind turbine blade factory has created hundreds of jobs on the Isle as well as jobs and other positive impacts across the wider Solent area.

[4]: Ricardo Energy & Environment (March 2017) UK business opportunities of moving to a low carbon economy

[5]: New Climate Economy (July 2015) Seizing the Global Opportunity


New owners must ensure Green Investment Bank plays key role in UK decarbonisation challenge

20th April 2017

Reacting to today’s announcement that Macquarie will be the new owner of the Green Investment Bank (GIB), Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said:

“The GIB has added real value to the UK green infrastructure market through a focus on funding novel green infrastructure projects and crowding in additional private sector investment. We are pleased to see that Macquarie has committed to investing £3bn over three years to grow the GIB’s activities. This is a promising start – particularly combined with its recognition of the skills and expertise of GIB employees in both London and Scotland.

We call on Macquarie to honour these commitments and ensure the GIB plays its part in financing the green infrastructure that will be essential to delivering the UK’s climate and environmental policy objectives in the years ahead. Going forward, we also expect the GIB to continue to engage with stakeholders and report transparently on the impact of its green investments.”

Nick Molho added: “Now that the GIB has been fully privatised and the UK can expect to receive less funding from the European Investment Bank post Brexit, the government must ensure that it has a clear strategy in place to attract private finance to deliver its environmental and low carbon policy objectives. Projects involving new technologies and business models will be required to deliver the UK’s Clean Growth Plan and 25 Year Environment Plan. Targeted government support will be essential to make these projects attractive to private investors such as pension funds.”

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UK needs strong environmental standards after Brexit

29th March 2017

Reacting to the Prime Minister’s triggering of Article 50 today, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: 

“Several key environmental and climate change policies are derived from EU legislation. Brexit will open up opportunities to make improvements in certain areas such as farming but the UK’s withdrawal must not lead to any weakening of our environmental protections or ambition. The UK needs stable and ambitious policies that will help improve the state of its environment for the benefit of its economy and society and attract more private investment in innovation and green infrastructure.” 

Nick Molho added: “There are many areas of environmental and energy policy where it will be in the interest of businesses and consumers for the UK to continue working closely with the EU. This will be important in areas such as product standards that will still apply to British businesses selling goods in the Single Market and the future of the Internal Energy Market, which is essential to the cost-effective and secure growth of renewable energy in the UK.” 

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UK needs more ambition on clean tech to be at cutting edge of global economy

8th March 2017

Reacting to the Spring Budget today, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said:

“It was positive to see lots of focus in today’s budget on supporting innovative businesses and ensuring the UK’s workforce has the skills it needs to benefit from the job opportunities of the future. But despite the fact that some of our key trading partners such as China[1] are investing heavily in renewable energy and other clean technologies, there was no reference to the importance of the low carbon sector to the future competitiveness of the UK economy[2].

If the UK is to meet the Chancellor’s ambition of being at the cutting edge of the global economy, the Autumn Budget will need to be much clearer about the UK’s environmental and low carbon ambitions and provide a clear business plan to meet the UK’s policy objectives under its Emissions Reduction Plan and 25 Year Plan for the Environment.”


[1] A record $285bn was invested in renewable energy globally in 2015 – see Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investments 2016 – http://bit.ly/1RAJA8w

[2] The UK’s low carbon and renewable energy economy was responsible for over 447,000 jobs and a turnover in excess of £83bn in 2014 – see UK Environmental Accounts: Low Carbon and Renewable Energy Economy Survey, total activity: 2014 – http://bit.ly/2mlwIOG

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Low carbon growth essential to deliver objectives of UK Industrial Strategy

3rd March 2017

Reacting to the Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee’s review of the Industrial Strategy, the Aldersgate Group stressed that supporting the continued growth of the UK’s low carbon supply chains is essential to deliver the government’s objectives of supporting growth across the UK.

The Committee calls for horizontal policies to drive forward the Prime Minister’s ambition of rebalancing productivity and growth the UK. A recent report from the Aldersgate Group showed that the UK’s cross-sector low carbon and renewable energy economy, which was responsible for over 447,000 jobs and a turnover in excess of £83bn in 2014[1], has seen significant investment in jobs and skills in parts of the UK that have suffered most from under-investment in recent years[2]. The continued growth of low carbon markets such as offshore wind, electric vehicles, ICT and energy efficiency, can have a central role in driving productivity and the government’s objective of delivering an economy that works for everyone.

Nick Molho, executive director of the Aldersgate Group said: “Supporting the continued growth of the UK’s low carbon economy provides the horizontal cut-through that the BEIS Committee demands. The government’s Industrial Strategy must complement its Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP) to maximise growth in UK low carbon supply chains and provide the policy consistency that business needs.” 

 

[1] ONS (30th November 2016) “UK Environmental Accounts: Low Carbon and Renewable Energy Economy Survey, total activity: 2014”

[2] Aldersgate Group (September 2016) Setting the Pace. Northern England’s Low Carbon Economy

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Scottish Government reasserts its ambition for a low carbon future

24th January 2017

Reacting to the publication of the Scottish Government’s Draft Energy Strategy today and Draft Climate Change Plan last week, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said:

"The Scottish Government has set out some challenging climate targets but has a great opportunity to capitalise on the progress already achieved and continue growing Scotland’s low carbon economy and supply chain. The bold measures that are being considered are welcome - particularly actions to tackle emissions in the built environment and transport. The proposal for 50% of all energy to be generated from renewables by 2030 will set an important long term signal that businesses can respond to with affordable investment and innovation. Technologies such as hydrogen can play an important role in the decarbonisation of heating, if the lack of progress on Carbon Capture and Storage can be tackled, but continued support should be given to more established technologies such as district heating networks and heat pumps."

Nick Molho added: "It is also positive to see that the Scottish Government’s consultation on improving energy efficiency includes suggestions such as tax rebates and green mortgages. Targeting fiscal incentives at key moments in a building’s life will help drive demand for energy efficiency improvements, with positive knock-on impacts on energy bills, carbon emissions and insulation supply chains. It is essential that the Scottish Government takes concrete measures as an outcome of this consultation."

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UK needs ambitious policy on resource efficiency as it prepares to leave EU

23rd January 2017

A new report from the Aldersgate Group out today, Amplifying action on resource efficiency, brings forward new business trials showing that greater resource efficiency could deliver significant economic benefits to the UK. To reap these rewards, the UK must outline the future of its resource efficiency policy, much of which currently comes from EU legislation. 

The new research published by the Aldersgate Group on behalf of the REBus project is based on the successful delivery of 26 business pilots that have delivered £4.89m in financial savings and reduced materials consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 62,619 tonnes and 1,953 tonnes, respectively. The work has been conducted across the UK and the Netherlands in a range of key market sectors (including electrical and electronic products, textiles, construction and ICT) that are worth an estimated €350bn to the EU economy. 

Based on the results from the pilot projects, the research also finds that adopting resource efficient business models across these key sectors of the EU economy could deliver an increase of up to €324bn of gross value added (GVA) by 2030 to the EU economy. Of this, the UK alone could see up to €88.4bn (approx. £76.9bn) in GVA gains.

The report features learnings from these business pilots as well as several case studies from Aldersgate Group members, including IKEA UK, Sky and Thames Water. The pilots taking part range from small SMEs such as iPower (whose installation of small scale fuel cells in social housing is estimated to save consumers up to 36% on their energy bills, whilst mitigating 3-4 tonnes of CO2 annually) to the Dutch Ministry of Defence (whose textile recovery programme for its military personnel has delivered additional revenue of approximately €750,000 and a savings of over 14,500 tonnes of CO2 annually).

As the UK prepares to leave the EU, the report sets out a range of key policy recommendations for the UK government based on the learnings from these business pilots:

1.    Improving the resource efficiency of the UK economy requires the development of government policy that is backed by all key departments across Whitehall and should feature in the upcoming industrial strategy.

2.    The government should develop standards that require products sold in the UK to be designed in a way that is resource efficient in order to minimise waste and ensure consumers benefit from better quality products that last as long they expect them to. These standards should be as good as or better than what will be put in place under the EU Circular Economy Package to avoid putting British businesses and consumers at a disadvantage.

3.    Government policy should help drive innovation on resource efficiency by helping businesses, especially SMEs, have better access to finance and technical advice.

4.    The UK should build on the success of its landfill tax and promote other fiscal incentives to encourage the re-use of materials, such as through variable VAT rates that favour resource efficient goods and services over their counterparts.

5.    Waste regulations need to be improved to ensure that secondary materials are not classified as ‘waste’, as long as a safe, alternative use can be found for them.

Other recommendations in the report include leading by example through public procurement practices that favour resource saving goods and services and improving the availability of data on how businesses are becoming more resource efficient. 

Steve Wallace, Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “The businesses involved in Rebus have demonstrated that resource efficiency can lead to commercial success. Theirs is an example  that others can follow. The pilots demonstrate that resource efficiency makes business sense and that there’s a double-win given the environmental benefits that coincide with the financial gains. The report that we are launching today sets out the critical actions required to encourage and support more businesses to follow this path, leading to a more resource efficient and therefore more prosperous UK economy.”

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “As it prepares to leave the EU, the government should urgently develop a resource efficiency policy that will help replicate the benefits of these pilot projects across the UK economy. This policy should be supported by all key government departments and should include fiscal incentives, product standards on resource efficiency that are as good as or better than what is in place in the EU and working with businesses to remove the financial and technical barriers that stand in the way of innovation."


New business trials show need for ambitious Circular Economy Package

23rd January 2017

A new report from the Aldersgate Group out today, Amplifying action on resource efficiency, brings forward new business trials showing that greater resource efficiency could deliver significant economic benefits to EU businesses. By encouraging resource efficient design and tackling key barriers such as access to finance, the Circular Economy Package could significantly improve the resilience and competitiveness of the EU economy.

The new research published by the Aldersgate Group on behalf of the REBus project is based on the successful delivery of 26 business pilots that have delivered €5.62m in financial savings and reduced materials consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 62,619 tonnes and 1,953 tonnes, respectively. The work has been conducted across the UK and the Netherlands in a range of key market sectors (including electrical and electronic products, textiles, construction and ICT) that are worth an estimated €350bn to the EU economy.

Based on the results from the pilot projects, the research also finds that adopting resource efficient business models across these key sectors of the EU economy could deliver:

  • Significant financial benefits: An increase of up to €324bn in gross value added (GVA) to the EU economy by 2030;
  • Reduced materials dependence: A reduction in material demand of up to 184 million tonnes and an additional 172 million tonnes of material diverted by 2030;
  • Decreases in greenhouse gas emissions: A reduction of up to 154 million tonnes CO2eq by 2030.

The report features learnings from these business pilots as well as several case studies from Aldersgate Group corporate members, including IKEA UK and Sky. The pilots taking part range from small SMEs such as iPower (whose installation of small scale fuel cells in social housing is estimated to save consumers up to 36% on their energy bills, whilst mitigating 3-4 tonnes of CO2 annually) to the Dutch Ministry of Defence (whose textile recovery programme for its military personnel has delivered additional revenue of approximately €750,000 and a savings of over 14,500 tonnes of CO2 annually).

The report also sets out a range of policy recommendations for the EU Circular Economy Package based on the learnings from these business pilots:

  1. The Ecodesign Working Plan must embrace resource efficiency standards and apply them across an increasingly broader range of products to ensure consumers are purchasing goods that last as long as they should and waste isn’t unnecessarily created.
  2. A viable innovation framework that improves businesses’ access to funding and technical expertise must be supported. This is especially true for SMEs.
  3. The Commission should encourage and support Member States to introduce fiscal incentives, such as variable VAT rates, so that circular products and services are promoted over their counterparts. The EU’s Action Plan on VAT provides a clear opportunity to address this.

Other recommendations in the report include EU public institutions leading by example through public procurement practices that favour resource saving goods and services, finalising the changes to the definition of ‘waste’ to incentivise the re-use of materials and improving the availability of data on how businesses are becoming more resource efficient.

Steve Wallace, Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “The businesses involved in Rebus have demonstrated that resource efficiency can lead to commercial success. Theirs is an example  that others can follow. The pilots demonstrate that resource efficiency makes business sense and that there’s a double-win given the environmental benefits that coincide with the financial gains. The report that we are launching today sets out the critical actions required to encourage and support more businesses to follow this path, leading to a more resource efficient and therefore more prosperous European economy.”

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “The Circular Economy Package is a great opportunity to scale up the benefits of these pilot projects across the EU. By requiring more resource efficient product design, working with businesses to remove the financial and technical barriers that stand in the way of innovation and encouraging the use of fiscal incentives, the Circular Economy Package could significantly improve the resource efficiency, competitiveness and resilience of the EU economy.”

European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: "The Circular Economy is an important element to modernise the European economy. If we want to transform the market economy in a more sustainable direction, we must show there is a business case behind the circular way of thinking. To make it happen the Commission's and co-legislators' task is to set the appropriate framework. However, it is eventually companies that bring a more circular and sustainable economy into reality. The REBus project presents valuable evidence that being circular is profitable. At the same time it provides ideas on how to change the regulatory environment to help business get engaged in this transition."


Aldersgate Group welcomes Industrial Strategy Green Paper

23rd January 2017

Reacting to the publication of the Building our Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said:
 
"The government’s focus on ensuring the UK secures the economic benefits of an affordable and timely transition to a low carbon economy is welcome. The opportunities arising from the low carbon economy extend beyond energy innovation into a wide range of highly productive sectors. This part of the economy was already employing 447,500 people in 2014, with a turnover in excess of £83bn. The global transition to a more decarbonised economy led by countries as diverse as China, India, Brazil and South Africa offers significant economic opportunities in areas where the UK has a competitive advantage, such as in ultra-low emission vehicles, offshore wind, the built environment and ICT.

The government’s forthcoming emissions reduction plan will be key in attracting affordable private investment into energy efficient and low carbon projects in the UK. Through greater co-ordination with Local Enterprise Partnerships, a clear low carbon skills policy and consideration on the future role of the UK’s energy intensive industries in the low carbon economy, the industrial strategy could help maximise growth and employment opportunities in the UK’s low carbon supply chains."

Nick Molho added: "The industrial strategy must also embrace resource efficiency. As seen in two reports launched this morning, the shift to a more circular economy will help deliver financial benefits and carbon emission savings in addition to reducing the UK’s resource dependency."

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GIB continues important role with completion of its offshore wind fund

13th January 2017

Reacting to the Green Investment Bank’s completion of its offshore wind fund, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said:
 
“The completion of the Green Investment Bank’s offshore wind fund shows that the GIB has played an important role in increasing private sector investment in offshore wind and critically, attracting new kinds of investors to the sector such as local authority pension funds. If privatisation of the GIB goes ahead, the government will have to ensure that it has a clear strategy in place to attract private sector investment in the novel green infrastructure projects that the UK needs to decarbonise its economy.”

offshore-wind

We're recruiting! Communications Officer

9th January 2017

The Aldersgate Group is recruiting a Communications Officer to join its Secretariat. The Communications Officer will manage all communications, meetings, events and finances and provide administrative support to the Secretariat, Board and membership.

The closing date for the receipt of applications is 5.00pm GMT on Wednesday 1st February 2017. Applicants should send their CV (max two sides) and covering letter (max one side) to Victoria Fleming-Williams.

See the full job specification for more details.


Briefing: Decarbonising heat in buildings

8th December 2016

Heating in buildings accounts for 40% of UK energy use and 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. However, very limited progress has been made in decarbonising our heating systems to date. The UK needs a clear action plan on tackling heat in order to meet our carbon budgets. The Aldersgate Group has produced this briefing to explore some of the available solutions and policy options.
 
Our briefing argues that a clear action plan, including a strategy for trialling different low carbon heat technologies, is needed in order to inspire confidence in the private sector to invest in low carbon heat solutions at an affordable cost. There are a number of low-regret solutions that should be seized, and the forthcoming emissions reduction plan must set the wheels in motion.


Budget 2017 must underpin the UK’s low carbon ambitions

23rd November 2016

Reacting to the Autumn Statement today, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “It is positive to see greater focus from government on linking up local authorities with businesses with further funding provided to LEPs. The new industrial strategy must allow the government to play a greater co-ordination role to link up businesses with the growing low carbon opportunities taking place across Britain and grow the UK’s low carbon supply chain.”

Nick Molho added: “To deliver genuine progress on the ground, Budget 2017 will need to provide much more detail as to how the government intends to deliver on the environmental and low carbon ambitions to be set out in its upcoming emissions reduction plan and 25 year plan for the environment.”

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UK ratification of Paris Agreement reinforces global climate momentum

17th November 2016

The Aldersgate Group welcomes the government's ratification of the Paris Agreement, lending the UK's weight to the unprecedented global momentum for climate action.

Nick Molho, executive director of the Aldersgate Group said: “The UK government has sent a strong signal of its commitment to international co-operation by ratifying the Paris Agreement today. The UK must now use its upcoming emissions reduction plan and industrial strategy to accelerate affordable private investment in clean and efficient technologies, grow supply chains across the UK and build a globally competitive low carbon economy.” 

He added: “The UK’s ratification sits alongside many positive moves in the past week, not least 360 major US businesses yesterday[1] calling for world leaders to accelerate action on climate change and Germany’s ambitious 2050 decarbonisation plan[2]. It confirms the global political and business support for the transition to a low carbon economy remains unswayed."

 

[1] US business joint statement calling on the USA and world leaders to accerlate action on climate change, 16 November: http://www.lowcarbonusa.org/

[2] German ministers reached an agreement last week to cut the country’s carbon emissions by up to 95% by 2050: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/germany-cut-carbon-emissions-95-per-cent-climate-deal-paris-agreement-global-warming-a7413911.html

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Briefing: the Emissions Reduction Plan and low carbon investment

16th November 2016

The fifth carbon budget was passed by Government on July 20, 2016. The UK now awaits a emissions reduction plan (ERP) with the policy detail to deliver the fourth and fifth budgets. The Aldersgate Group has produced this briefing 'The Emissions Reduction Plan and low carbon investment' to help draw out the priorities for the plan, in order to maximise emissions reductions for the UK in a cost effective way. 

Our briefing argues that a detailed ERP will help attract low carbon investment in the UK's infrastructure and must be supported across government departments. It should work in tandem with other government initiatives such as the industrial strategy and be supported by a green finance strategy. The briefing provides tangible policy recommendations in priority areas such as power, building efficiency, transport, and heat.


25 Year Environment Plan key to improve UK’s natural assets and resilience to flooding

2nd November 2016

The Aldersgate Group welcomed the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee's proposals today for a much wider use of measures such as tree planting and improved soil management to help address flood risk[1]. The Group highlighted the importance of developing a 25 Year Environment Plan to improve the state of the UK’s natural environment and the resilience of its infrastructure.

As highlighted in the Aldersgate Group’s recent report Setting the pace: Northern England’s low carbon economy, examples such as the Slowing the Flow project in Pickering, North Yorkshire and the Alkborough Flats project in Lincolnshire show the potential of natural capital solutions for flood management[2].

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “Whilst it is understandable that the timetable for the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan has been impacted by the vote to leave the European Union, we would press Defra to publish a framework for the plan as soon as possible. Investing in natural assets can help protect businesses and communities from flooding and increase the resilience of the UK’s infrastructure to the future impacts of climate change.”

Nick Molho added: “As the EFRA Committee has highlighted, post-Brexit we have an opportunity to reconfigure the agricultural subsidy system to one more focused on the provision of positive environmental outcomes. Channelling greater funds towards sustainable land use practices will help support the farming community in delivering environmental enhancements such as improved water catchment management and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”


[1] Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (November 2016) Future Flood Prevention

[2] The Slowing the Flow initiative has used a range of land management techniques, including reseeding heather and planting new woodlands to reduce the chance of flooding in the town from 25% to 4% or less in any given year - see: bit.ly/slowtf. The Alkborough Flats project involved the flooding of 440 hectares of intensively farmed agricultural land on the south bank of the Humber Estuary to act as a storage site for floodwater and reduce costal erosion. The project is estimated to deliver total flood risk management benefits of £12.26m over 100 years, in addition to an annual £165,000 of enhanced recreation and tourism, and almost £750,000 per year from wildlife habitat benefits - see: bit.ly/Alkmr and UK National Ecosystem Assessment (2011).

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Briefing: Industrial Strategy should have a strong low carbon element

19th October 2016

Ahead of the House of Commons debate on industrial strategy tomorrow, the Aldersgate Group has prepared a briefing on why the industrial strategy should have a strong low carbon element. 
 
Our briefing argues that the industrial strategy must build on the UK's existing areas of competitive strength, such as ultra-low emission vehicles, smart ICT solutions, energy efficiency, offshore wind and project financing of clean energy projects. It must also complement the government's forthcoming emissions reduction plan, include a skills strategy and reflect the shift to a more resource efficient or "circular economy".
 
The UK and world economy have embarked on a low carbon transition. The UK's competitiveness will be increasingly tied to the development of a strong low carbon goods and services sector to ensure we can take advantage of the opportunities in the international low carbon market, which is estimated to be worth $5.5tn. Taking a low carbon focus can help future-proof the economy and maximise potential for UK plc. 


New global context requires an ambitious UK low carbon policy

13th October 2016

Reacting to the publication of three reports from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) today, the Aldersgate Group stated that putting in place an ambitious low carbon policy framework is not only needed to meet the UK’s carbon reduction targets but also to strengthen the future competitiveness of its economy.

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “With the unprecedented speed by which the Paris Agreement will be coming into force on 4 November and a record $285bn invested in renewable energy globally in 2015[1], it is clear that tackling climate change and growing the low carbon economy has leapt up the international agenda. Much of the growth in low carbon investments is coming from countries outside the EU, with China, India, Brazil, South Africa and the US among the top ten global investors. At a time when Theresa May is focused on forging “a bold, new, confident role” for the UK on the world stage, government should take note of this global shift and prioritise the continued growth of its successful low carbon economy[2].”

Nick Molho added: “With the help of business and civil society, the government should now develop a detailed emissions reduction plan that will attract affordable private sector investment in energy efficiency and low carbon infrastructure to meet the UK’s carbon budgets at least cost and in line with the recommendations of the CCC in its latest reports. In doing so, government should put forward a clear plan to demonstrate the technical and commercial viability of new technologies in complex areas such as decarbonising heat. The upcoming industrial strategy is also an ideal opportunity to complement the emissions reduction plan and consider how targeted government initiatives can maximise growth and employment opportunities in the UK’s low carbon supply chain.” 


[1] Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investments 2016: http://bit.ly/1RAJA8w

[2] Recent ONS figures have highlighted that 96,500 businesses in the UK operated in the low carbon and renewable energy economy in 2014, generating £46.2bn of turnover and employing 238,500 people directly. ONS’ statistics are available at: http://bit.ly/1XyY6ol

Committee on Climate Change

Swift ratification of global climate deal paves way for low carbon UK

5th October 2016

Today the number of countries that have ratified the Paris Agreement has passed the 55% threshold of total global greenhouse gas emissions prompting the Paris Agreement to come into force in 30 days.

Reacting to the news, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “The unprecedented speed by which the Paris Agreement will have entered into force is a significant achievement for international climate diplomacy. It confirms global political support for the transition to a low carbon economy, something which the world economy has already embarked on with a record $285bn invested in renewable energy last year. As the international low carbon economy continues to grow, the most competitive countries will be those that lead the development and export of energy efficient and low carbon goods and services.  
 
Nick Molho added: “Global leaders must now use the COP22 summit in Morocco to start thrashing out the details of some of the major commitments made in Paris last year. In the UK, the government should respond to the economic opportunity provided by the entry into force of the Paris Agreement by developing an emissions reduction plan that will increase affordable private investment in energy efficiency and low carbon infrastructure as well as use the industrial strategy to maximise growth and employment opportunities in the low carbon supply chain.

Paris-climate-change

Business welcomes Theresa May’s leadership on the climate agenda

20th September 2016

Reacting to Theresa May’s announcement at the United Nations General Assembly in New York that the UK would initiate domestic proceedings to ratify the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change, the Aldersgate Group welcomed the UK’s move to join the unprecedented momentum to formally ratify the agreement.

Nick Molho, executive director of the Aldersgate Group of businesses said: “Theresa May has shown welcome leadership on the world stage today by announcing the UK’s upcoming ratification of the Paris Agreement. Together with the government’s recent approval of the fifth carbon budget, this decision will help the UK maintain an influential role alongside other countries such as China and the United States in international efforts to tackle climate change and help the UK secure an important share of the growing global low carbon economy, which was recently valued at $5.5tn”[1]

He added: “To deliver on the Paris Agreement and the UK’s own climate targets, the government’s focus should now be to put together a national policy framework that will increase affordable private sector investment in low carbon technologies, accelerate their reduction in cost and grow the UK’s low carbon supply chain, which already employs over 238,000 people directly[2]. A detailed emissions reduction plan and an industrial strategy that supports low carbon investment will be critical in delivering these objectives.”


[1] According to a 2015 report by the Global Commission on the Economy and the Climate, the global market for low carbon goods and services was valued at $5.5tn in 2011-2012. 

[2] In 2014, 96,500 businesses in the UK operated in the low carbon and renewable energy (LCRE) economy, equivalent to 4.4% of all non-financial businesses. This activity generated £46.2bn turnover and employed 238,500 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers. These figures from the ONS are the final estimates of the direct low carbon and renewable energy economy in 2014. Estimates of indirect LCRE activity will be published later this year.

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