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Plenty more work to do after Lima but strong climate deal in Paris still possible

14th December 2014

Reacting to the outcome of the climate change talks in Lima, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: 

"After a 33 hour overtime marathon to conclude negotiations, the Lima climate change talks haven't delivered as clear cut an outcome as many wished for and significant work remains to be done in 2015 if the world is to prevent dangerous levels of climate change. But they have at least kept hopes for a strong climate change deal in Paris alive and the Peruvian delegation should be given much credit for that.  

"As we enter the important year that is 2015, businesses have a key role to play in speaking louder and in bigger numbers in favour of a strong climate deal to add their full weight to the essential efforts of civil society and the world's progressive governments. The economic, social and environmental imperative of preventing the worst impacts of climate change warrants such an unprecedented global coalition."

See our coverage in businessGreen.

 

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Circular Economy Package must form part of the European Commission's plans for 2015

12th December 2014

Ahead of the European Commission's announcement in the European Parliament on 17 December, the Aldersgate Group urged the European Commission to maintain the circular economy package in its work programme for 2015.

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: "Moving towards a circular economy with much higher degrees of recycling and remanufacturing is an important part of making the European economy more efficient, competitive as well as environmentally sustainable. Ensuring that EU policy goals are delivered through "better regulation" is a good aspiration, but the Commission should go about this by developing smart regulations to meet these goals as opposed to simply abandoning crucially important areas of policy such as the circular economy package".

See our letter in the Telegraph.

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Aldersgate Group reactive to latest report by Committee on Climate Change

10th December 2014

Reacting to the latest report from the Committee on Climate Change, Energy prices and bills - impacts of meeting carbon budgets, the Aldersgate Group urged political leaders champion the shift towards a low carbon economy.

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: "This report from the Committee on Climate Change clearly shows that we can meet our carbon targets affordably, a conclusion that many other reports have also reached. To do so, the next Government must pursue energy efficiency policies to a much greater extent than has been done to date and show its support for the clean energy sector well beyond the end of this decade if businesses are to invest in our low carbon power stations at a reasonable cost."

"With the General Election fast approaching, our political leaders should remember that meeting our carbon targets isn't just about tackling climate change, it's also about equipping our nation with modern homes and building an efficient and low carbon energy system fit for the 21st century. Moving to a low carbon economy could unlock important employment and economic growth opportunities if the next Government shows a long-term commitment to this much needed transition and could significantly improve the UK's energy security by cutting its dependence on fossil fuels."

See our coverage in the Guardian.

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£280bn business coalition backs "better growth" roadmap to get UK economy working harder for environment and society

9th December 2014

A coalition of some of the UK's biggest businesses with a collective turnover in excess of £280bn today backed a new macro-economic roadmap for Britain by launching a new campaign called "An Economy That Works" based on the findings of a major report.

Campaign founders the Aldersgate Group and its progressive alliance of NGOs and UK businesses argue in their first report that the UK economy risks becoming detached from the long-term needs of society. It says that GDP growth is an important tool in creating prosperous societies, but warns that on its own growth is unable to define a path to lasting prosperity and competitiveness. It says an economy that works for the UK is one that will be low carbon, will deliver high employment and equality of opportunity, and place wellbeing and regard for natural resources at its core. 

Launching the new campaign, Sir Richard Lambert, former Financial Times editor and former Director-General of the CBI said: "Single-issue policymaking is struggling to address the complex social and environmental challenges of our time.  The Economy that Works coalition has a relentlessly positive vision and its systemic blueprint for creating decent jobs, delivering equal opportunity, and enhancing wellbeing across the UK is exciting and galvanising."

Peter Young, Chair of the Aldersgate Group said: "Despite encouraging UK growth figures, we risk getting stuck with reduced wellbeing, rising inequality, continued loss of natural capital and rising resource pressures. Policymakers urgently need to look beyond GDP to define successful growth – setting far more coherent policy goals which strengthen the links between our economy, our society and the environment.”

Learn more about the campaign at AnEconomyThatWorks.org

See our coverage in businessGreen.

See Sir Ian Cheshire's op-ed on our campaign in the Independent.

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Political ambition critical to building a thriving and future ready economy in the UK

2nd December 2014

In its latest report, the Aldersgate Group calls for visionary leadership from the next Parliament to tackle a range of environmental challenges and help build a growing, sustainable and resilient UK economy.

The General Election of May 2015 will deliver the Parliament that will take us to 2020, the target date for many of the UK’s environmental commitments and widely calculated to be the last period in which we can implement sufficient decarbonisation programmes to avoid dangerous levels of climate change. The Autumn Statement due out tomorrow (3rd December) marks the starter’s whistle for the Election campaign.

Now is the time for ambitious leadership from all parties to win back voters with a positive and long-term vision for the UK. Many threats to the UK economy are characteristically long-term, which makes this period, six months before a General Election, politically unique in allowing parties to consider issues beyond the confines of the parliamentary cycle.

The Aldersgate Group Manifesto identifies six target areas for the next parliament to help the UK effectively address today’s big environmental challenges, whilst maximising economic benefits for the UK. The next government must (1) accelerate the move to a competitive low carbon economy, (2) prioritise energy and resource efficiency, (3) improve our understanding and the state of our natural capital, (4) equip the UK’s workforce with the right skills to benefit from the opportunities offered by the transition to a sustainable economy, (5) increase financial flows towards low carbon and other environmental projects and (6) ensure the UK continues to benefit from progressive European environmental standards whatever the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “As a business-led coalition with members drawn from a wide range of economic sectors, the Aldersgate Group is well placed to advocate policies that will benefit the UK as a whole.

“The outcome of the General Election in May is unpredictable, yet we know that voters are yearning for a positive vision to tackle the challenges we face as a country today. This report sets out how politicians, recognising the climate and resource challenges that we face, can go about creating an efficient, resilient and low carbon economy and deliver significant economic and social benefits for the UK.”

See our coverage in businessGreen here.


Lima must lay the framework for a global climate deal in 2015

27th November 2014

From 1st to 12th December, the 20th Conference of Parties (COP) will be held in Lima to agree the framework of a global climate deal. The Aldersgate Group welcomes the momentum that has built in the run-up to Lima - with the UN Climate Summit, US-China climate accord and the Green Climate Fund’s mobilisation of $9.3bn - but urges negotiators to lay the groundwork for an ambitious deal to be signed in Paris in 2015 (COP 21).

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “2015 is a pivotal year for climate action. Paris will be a watershed for international climate negotiations which, as the IPCC’s Synthesis Report showed earlier this month, must drive action at the pace and scale required by climate science. Lima must establish a framework for individual countries’ domestic climate action plans post-2020 and outline how they will submit their pledges.”

See our coverage on edie.net.

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Aldersgate Group calls for corporate input on graduate skills

18th November 2014

Aldersgate Group member, the National Union of Students (NUS), is inviting corporate senior management and HR teams to take part in their latest study. The short, confidential survey investigates businesses' experience of recruiting and working with recent graduates and aims to understand the corporate skills and values requirements relating to a sustainable economy.

More than one person from an organisation can complete the survey and, as thanks for your time, participants will have the chance to win a £1000 donation to the charity of your choice. The survey will take 10 minutes to complete and can be saved and continued when convenient.

Click here to begin the survey. 

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IPCC report makes scientific and economic case for tackling climate change crystal clear

2nd November 2014

Reacting to the publication today of the Synthesis Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Aldersgate Group urged world leaders and the UK government to deliver an international deal at the pace and scale called for by climate science.

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “The world’s scientific community has given us both a clear warning and a message of hope. It has made it crystal clear that man-made climate change is a reality but has also shown that prompt, cost-effective and coordinated action by the world’s governments can help limit the detrimental impacts that unabated climate change would have on the natural environment and the world economy. It is now time for governments to deliver a deal at the pace and scale required by climate science.”

Referring to recent research from the New Climate Economy Foundation and Cambridge Econometrics, Nick Molho added: “Beyond the benefits of avoiding the economic damage that would be caused by unabated climate change, Governments should also remember that moving to an efficient and low-carbon economy is an opportunity in itself. Recent research shows for instance that meeting the UK’s existing carbon targets under its Climate Change Act would result in higher GDP, higher household income and higher levels of employment by 2030 compared to a situation where the UK does little to reduce its emissions.”

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Thought leaders call for greater ambition for Green Investment Bank

28th October 2014

The Aldersgate Group launches a new report today (28th October), at a high profile event in central London with Secretary of State Vince Cable to mark the GIB’s first two years of operation.

The report highlights the GIB’s impressive achievements but urges the next Government to increase the power and remit of the GIB to ensure it provides the necessary support to the UK’s growing green economy.

All contributors congratulate the GIB’s achievements and welcome the cross-party support that has provided it with firm foundations. In its short lifespan the Bank has demonstrated that investment in green infrastructure can be profitable, has drawn in new sources of private sector capital and contributed to the UK’s position as one of the world’s most attractive destinations for private sector green investment.

Peter Young, Chair of the Aldersgate Group and one of the editors of the report said: “The GIB’s achievements are all the more remarkable considering the restrictions within which it has operated. The government must now broaden the Bank’s remit into new sectors and grant it the ability to borrow, by issuing new products such as green bonds and ISAs. This will widen its impact, increase its leverage and allow the general public to invest in the clean, green industrial revolution that is essential to secure our future wealth and wellbeing.”


EU leaders agree 2030 climate and energy package

24th October 2014

Reacting to the European Council announcement, Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group said: “European leaders have made the right decision to commit to a greenhouse gas emission reduction target of at least 40% by 2030, which keeps open the option to increase the EU’s commitment to a higher and more adequate target in the event of successful climate negotiations in Paris next year.  Beyond the obvious environmental benefits, recent research shows that a strong greenhouse gas target is in the interest of the UK economy and we therefore urge the UK Government to push for an ambitious international deal on climate change in 2015.”

Nick Molho added: "It is on the other hand disappointing that the package contains insufficient ambition on energy efficiency, one of the cheapest ways of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, protecting consumers against rising energy bills and improving energy security. We urge the next Government to make energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority in the UK to ensure its environmental, economic and energy security benefits can be maximised."  

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European Council must agree on 2030 energy and climate policy framework

6th October 2014

In the run-up to the crucial European Council on 23rd-24th October, the Aldersgate Group has signed a letter to the Heads of State and Government of the European Union, calling for "a robust 2030 energy and climate policy framework and energy security strategy," that can meet Europe's long-term climate objectives and deliver a global climate agreement in next year's negotiations in Paris.

The letter, signed by 57 companies, funds and associations, asserts that an ambitious agreement would “contribute towards a modern, resource-effecient and low carbon growth as a central driver for Europe’s economic recovery and competitiveness agenda”. Signatories include the Aldersgate Group members Philips, Kingfisher, and Interface.


Andrew Raingold says farewell to Aldersgate Group

30th September 2014

Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, thanked the staff, directors and members of the Aldersgate Group in a farewell speech at law firm Hogan Lovells.  

He said: "The biggest achievement over the last seven years, beyond any specific policy campaign, is the group's ability to bring together some of the most influential actors in the UK to demonstrate real leadership on the environmental agenda. We have not been bogged down by the lowest common denominator, where so many business coalitions get stuck, but have continuously strived to be the highest common denominator.  We owe this track record to a committed and progressive membership that is the key to everything that we do.

"My successor, Nick Molho, is absolutely the right man to take the organisation to the next level. He has repeatedly brought together business coalitions for change and will ensure that the AG is a driving force for a sustainable economy in the run up to the next election and beyond." 

At the event, the winner of the "Dragons' Den", Mike Barry, Director of Sustainable Business at M&S, said: "This is Andrew's last gig at the Aldersgate Group and he has done a phenomenal job.  The reason why we are all here today is because he has led this organisation and made it very special."

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Aldersgate Group welcomes two new directors

30th September 2014

The Aldersgate Group is delighted to confirm two new appointments to our Board of Directors: Mark Gough, Head of Sustainability at The Crown Estate, and Luke Herbert, Head of UK Government Affairs at Jaguar Land Rover.

Both have been involved in Aldersgate Group activities through their employers' membership of the Group.

Mark Gough said: "I am really thrilled to be joining one of the most progressive organisations in the UK. With new leadership and building upon a really strong foundation this is an exciting time for the Aldersgate Group and I am honoured to be a part of it. We have a lot to do, but I am confident that the team, members and supporters will rise to the challenge and move us closer towards a sustainable economy that works."

Luke Herbert said: "In my time working across business and in government affairs, I have seen the huge contribution that business can make in innovation and delivery to improve the environment and delivery jobs and growth. The Aldersgate Group has constantly impressed me in its ability to bring progressive business, policymakers and those with an environmental interest together around a common agenda. As the UK moves to the next stage of action on climate change whilst seeking to have an even more competitive economy, the need for the Aldersgate Group could not be greater. I greatly look forward to supporting the work of the Group in this role."

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Business to business partnerships to drive climate development

24th September 2014

A new report and series of pilot projects finds that business can play a leading role in leveraging their strengths to deliver the combined outcomes of greater opportunity for the poor, benefits for the climate and resilience against physical climate changes.

Written by the Aldersgate Group and DfiD-supported Climate Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), the report finds that business-to-business partnerships can create the conditions for transformational change, through the creation of climate resilient global supply chains, opening up new markets and creating jobs and income, or developing innovative and scalable solutions to tackling emissions and poverty.

These partnerships can be effectively supported by strategic and targeted aid, turning climate and development opportunity into climate and development success. Directly following the publication of the report, four pilot projects have been funded by DfiD, including renewable energy village power in Sub Saharan Africa, energy efficiency for businesses in Peru and decentralised energy access in rural India.

Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “Our study shows that with the right incentives and support, business-to-business partnerships can be a valuable tool to mitigate climate change, build resilience, and alleviate poverty, a win-win-win! We are delighted that this has led to four pilot projects around the world to help further test the concept and build the evidence base.”


Government is "running out of options"

16th September 2014

Andrew Raingold, the Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, has told the Environmental Audit Committee that the Government is "running out of options" to deliver on its pledge to be the greenest government ever "if there is less Government spending available (and) if there is less appetite to regulate". He said that greater leadership was required to drive "sensible" fiscal reform and "best value" public procurement. 

As an oral witness to the Committee's inquiry on An Environmental Scorecard, Mr Raingold said: "A priority for the next Government should be sensible fiscal reform which seeks to raise taxes on damaging activities like pollution and reduce taxes on beneficial activities like work. The Office for National Statistics shows that the proportion of environmental taxation has fallen during this Parliament. If this trend were reversed over the next five years and delivered in a smart way, there would be benefits for growth, jobs and wellbeing."

The report gives the Government a ‘red card’ for its efforts to reduce health-damaging air pollution, protect biodiversity and prevent flooding in a scorecard assessment of its green policies during this Parliament.

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Mike Barry wins the Dragons' Den

11th September 2014

Mike Barry, Director of Sustainable Business at M&S, was voted the winner at the Aldersgate Group's UN Climate Summit Dragons Den. The event heard from a series of business leaders who met the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s challenge to make bold pledges to close the emissions gap and deliver a low carbon economy.

He said: “There is no single thing that governments can work out in a smoke filled room in New York, Paris or anywhere else that will change business. Governments have to invite business to the table to work with them".

"My challenge is that governments should invite the big industrial sectors of the global economy to come to Paris in 15 months time to show how they are going to reduce by 80% the carbon in their business models, in their supply chains and operations and consumer use of their products. Also, they need to turn up with a plan to show how they are going to scale that across the millions of companies within their sectors.”

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Government must do more to realise growth opportunities of natural capital

5th September 2014

The Aldersgate Group welcomes the wide acceptance of the work of the business-led Ecosystems Markets Task Force (EMTF) set out in the Government’s response published on 5th September. But while the Government has favoured the vast majority of the recommendations, the actions described could fall well short of delivering the contribution to growth and business opportunity that ambitious implementation of the EMTF's carefully crafted suggestions would make.

Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group and a member of the EMTF said: “The business opportunities highlighted by the EMTF will not be realised if Government is not prepared to make them tangible and secure for investment in new nature based markets. For example, it is vital that the current consultation on biodiversity offsetting does not result in a voluntary scheme which, the published Impact Assessment shows, will deliver absolutely nothing for growth. It would be a massive missed opportunity which has been estimated to be worth £450 million over the next decade. I am pleased that there will be the opportunity to scrutinise progress on all 22 recommendations next spring.”

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Aldersgate Group appoints new Executive Director

3rd September 2014

The Aldersgate Group is delighted to confirm the appointment of Nick Molho as its new Executive Director. Nick replaces Andrew Raingold who is standing down after more than seven years leading the organisation. 

Molho is currently Head of Climate Change and Energy Policy at WWF. He is an environmental lawyer who started his career at CMS Cameron McKenna, where he spent six years working on commercial energy law for a range of international businesses, regulators and governments. At WWF he has continued building connections with the private sector, recently managing a joint statement in The Times that was signed by 110 businesses and industry organisations in support of the Fourth Carbon Budget. A regular public speaker, Molho also writes for a range of outlets such as The Economist Insights, Business Green and the Huffington Post.

Peter Young, Chair of the Aldersgate Group said: “Andy has done a fantastic job for Aldersgate Group and when he leaves in October he should take huge pride in the journey he has led us on, since our inception eight years ago. But we have always exploited every challenge as an opportunity to take our agenda forward and this is no exception.

“I am delighted to welcome Nick Molho as our new Executive Director. He comes with a wealth of experience in developing evidence-based policy positions, engaging with business, delivering transformation and communicating to a mass audience. His arrival is perfect timing, as we launch our An Economy That Works campaign and gear up towards making the next Government a green success. He will bring us new momentum and experience, and I expect us to go to from strength to strength under his leadership.’

Nick Molho said: “I have long been a supporter of the Aldersgate Group and its ethos that environmental policies must sit above everyday party politics and can play a key role in improving the competitiveness of our economy. The current political and financial climate has proved this point many times over and this makes the Aldersgate Group one of the most important and exciting bodies to be leading today.”

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We need a repayment plan for nature

3rd September 2014

The Chairman of the Aldersgate Group, Peter Young, has said we need a repayment plan to address the natural capital debt. Delivering the closing remarks at RSPB's Conference for Nature alongside other keynote speeches from Sir David Attenborough and the Rt Hon Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, he said that the debt to nature was far worse than the financial debt.  

Peter Young said: "If the Greek debt crisis looked bad our natural capital debt is even more grave. The plant will become truly bankrupt if we don't start reducing it soon. We need a credible repayment plan to start restoring nature now."

"The next government must act for nature. New legislation to halt destruction and start recovery, a clear long term remit for the Natural Capital Committee Mk II, and consistent linkage between the health of the individual, the economy and nature in policy making would do it for me. It is time to halt the selfish complacency of procrastination which politicians have shown in dealing with our urgent environmental problems."

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AG welcomes the EAC's call for an end to "the throwaway society"

24th July 2014

The Aldersgate Group has welcomed the latest report by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) demanding more government support in the transition towards the circular economy which to date "lacks ambition and leadership". The report makes a series of policy and fiscal recommendations including the establishment of an Office for Resource Management, ban on food waste going to landfill, and the removal of trade barriers for remanufactured goods.

Steve Wallace, Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: "The EAC's call to end the 'throwaway society' rightly recognises the finite nature of resources. Progressive businesses have identified this challenge and are responding to it, but much more can and should be done at a national level to facilitate the transition. Countries that proactively manage the change will have the economic advantage in the future. Those that follow a business as usual strategy will fall behind". 

The AG is a partner, with WRAP, in project REBus. The project delivers the technical support business requires to implement the models needed for such a transition and illustrates the financial benefits of doing so.

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