Some of the UK’s largest businesses have today called on the Government to simplify how organisations report the carbon emissions associated with the energy that they purchase. A survey of energy professionals finds that there is confusion about current Government policy, leading a number of businesses to question the benefit of so-called “green” tariffs. A number of inconsistencies provide relatively weak and complex signals, leading some Boards to retreat from investing in renewable technologies.
The report, Enable the Label, was written by energy experts Utilyx and commissioned by a steering group that comprises the Aldersgate Group, BT, EY, HSBC, Reed Elsevier, Sky and the Retail Energy Forum. The report recommends that businesses speak to their energy supplier to adopt an electricity label and help to transform the energy market.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “Customers have a right to know the ingredients of the product they are buying, but this is not the case in the energy market. Energy bills must pass the ‘horsemeat test’. Most buyers are unable to determine if the electricity they are purchasing is from renewables, nuclear, gas or coal.”
The Aldersgate Group have welcomed a new report by LSE on how UK carbon policies affect the competitiveness of businesses. It finds that arguments in favour of revising the Fourth Carbon Budget, based on concerns about competitiveness, are not supported by the evidence. Existing data suggest that the impact of current policies is small or negligible, dwarfed by a range of other economic factors.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: "LSE's comprehensive analysis of carbon policies supports the mainstream view of British business that current UK carbon policies do not have a major negative impact on competitiveness. It also demonstrates the beneficial impact of smart environmental policies on potential growth and productivity performance of the UK’s economy as a whole relative to other trading partners. This provides yet more evidence to the call from business leaders for Government to accept the 4th carbon budget without any further delay or uncertainty."
Leading companies do not know where their energy comes from, according to the outcomes of an Aldersgate Group workshop held at the Green Corporate Energy Conference (hosted by The Crowd). The seminar found that organisations would make better energy purchasing decisions if they had better information. Despite some positive steps forward with the publication of a Defra consultation on the reporting of renewables, there is a lack of a comprehensive and transparent approach that can be clearly communicated to stakeholders.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: "Companies have a right to know and account for the ingredients of the energy they buy. That is why many businesses are calling for an electricity label that would visually communicate the quantity and carbon emissions on their energy bill. We have it for cars and fridges but not the product with the largest carbon impact."
Mr Raingold was joined on the panel with representatives from BT, Npower and EDF. To find out more about the launch of the electricity label and how businesses can benefit, click here.
The Aldersgate Group have welcomed an announcement by Shadow Environment Minister Barry Gardiner that, if elected, Labour would undertake a ‘Stern Review' of resource security in a bid to better identify the escalating resource supply risks the country faces. Last year, the AG published a Business Statement strongly supporting Government Chief Economists' proposal to commission a robust and independent review into the impacts of resource security and climate change on UK growth.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: "Resource insecurity is already having a tangible impact on growth and the Government must play its part to understand and safeguard future prosperity. Labour's commitment to a resource security review will be widely supported by the business community but cross-party consensus is essential to take this forward effectively."
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, has announced that he will be leaving the Aldersgate Group in the autumn. He has played a pivotal role within the organisation since he joined as the first employee in 2007, building the Aldersgate Group into one of the most influential and progressive voices in the environmental policy debate.
He said: "After seven hugely enjoyable years leading the Aldersgate Group, I feel the time is right for a new challenge and I will be focusing on interests in the charity sector. From small beginnings, I am extremely proud of the impact we have had at the highest levels of Government and business, driving forward our mission of action for a sustainable economy."
"The influence we have brought to bear in a number of critical areas of policy, such as mandatory carbon reporting and establishing the world's first Green Investment Bank, is credit to a prominent, active and progressive membership. It has been the utmost privilege to work alongside so many leading thinkers and manage such a talented team. The Group is in a very strong position to continue to provide the expert knowledge, influence and leadership that has become its hallmarks."
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, has said that a leap forward in policy delivery is still needed to meet the UK's climate targets and drive economic growth. Speaking to the Guardian, he said that data from the Committee on Climate Change shows that Britain has performed well in new wind generation as well as in improving the energy efficiency of residential buildings and new cars.
"But the pace of change overall has slowed," Raingold said, and "the cross-party consensus (at the time of the Climate Change Act) has fallen apart over the past few years... The UK in a strong position (in the green economy race) thanks to our world-leading legislation, but it's at risk of slipping behind competitors.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group, has urged the political parties to make an enhanced industrial strategy a priority in the election manifestos. This forms part of a new series by Green Alliance of leading thinkers, from politics, business and green groups, to set out their one big manifesto idea for the next parliament.
Mr Raingold writes: "The government have made huge strides forward with the current industrial strategy, working in partnership with industry to deliver long term economic goals... This must be built on by the next government by addressing major, long term challenges and setting greater overall strategic direction."
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group, has written to the Sunday Telegraph with a host of business leaders calling for ambitious action on the EU energy efficiency target. The letter argues that voluntary measures on energy efficiency have failed to drive ambitious action which means the UK - and wider EU - has missed opportunities to reduce energy demand, costs and to build energy security. A binding energy efficiency target by 2030 would provide the long, loud and legal backdrop to allow investors to plan with confidence.
Andrew Raingold said: "This week President Obama announced a series of executive actions to promote energy efficiency which will save businesses in the United States nearly $26 billion on their energy bills to 2030. Europe needs to stay ahead of the game with leadership from the very top, combined with a binding 2030 energy efficiency target, to drive growth, exports and resilience."
Aldersgate Group has released a new report launching its An Economy That Works initiative. Published a year before the next general election, the report frames the key characteristics of a smart, low carbon and resource efficient economy that would enable the UK to lead the global race in the long term.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, has described the report as “a wake up call for politicians from all parties” and an outline of “a growth strategy that is resilient to systemic risk and creates prosperity by delivering solutions to major global challenges”.
The report states, “We believe we are on the verge of a new industrial revolution. The race to create and sell solutions that meet global 21st century needs is well under way. The good news for the UK is that we are in a strong position to lead in many areas and are already reaping the rewards. The danger is that we fall behind in areas where we currently have comparative advantage.”
More details on the initiative can be viewed at AnEconomyThatWorks.org.
Defra has announced that Aldersgate Group Chairman, Peter Young, will preside over a review panel to help shape England’s environmental legislation as part of their Smarter Environmental Regulation Review (SERR). Joining his review panel is AG member Northern Ireland Environment Agency’s Terry A’Hearn.
Defra has found that the current framework “evolved in a piecemeal way” and being “fragmented, overlapping, inconsistent and complex”. They are building on the first phase of SERR to consider the scope to reform environmental legislation. The panel aims to propose a new long-term direction and framework for environmental legislation as well as actions for the next 5-10 years. They are set to report to Ministers in late 2014.
To read the terms of reference for Phase 2 of SERR, click here.
Speaking at an Aldersgate Group event, Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, argued that "our long-term prosperity and wellbeing relies on recognising the real value of nature."
The Secretary of State noted that momentum is building in the natural capital movement and argued that the Government had made "solid progress" delivering on the recommendations of the the Ecosystem Markets Task Force (EMTF).
Sir Ian Cheshire, Group Chief Executive of Kingfisher and EMTF Chair, also speaking at the event, argued: “we have to go further and faster…The Government’s heart is in the right place. The challenge now is to push through in some of the areas where the politics is perceived to be difficult.”
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, has written to the Times newspaper, arguing that while the UK may be part of a leading group of nations which are taking policy action on climate change, there is no evidence to support claims by manufacturers that they risk forcing jobs overseas by making energy too expensive.
He cites new research by the London School of Economics which demonstrates that medium industrial energy users in the UK pay lower green taxes on their electricity bills than the European Union average. These taxes account for around 8 per cent of total electricity costs in the UK, compared to 23 per cent in the EU.
Andrew Raingold says "this must be taken into account as the Government reviews its carbon commitments. In truth, the UK’s leadership on climate change enjoys widespread support from business".
Speaking at Resource Event, the first major conference for circular economy, Aldersgate Group Director Steve Wallace asserted that it’s time to act to move businesses towards circularity.
Wallace, addressing the drivers for such a shift, said: “The linear economy was designed for a world with much less people and much less demand for resources. It is clear that this isn’t the case now. We need to change to a circular economy and one of the barriers to change is pure inertia built into current systems. The REBus project is a collaboration with WRAP as our lead partner. It is an opportunity to get out of the theory and into the practice and find what really works.
“There’s been much effort in the recent decades building deliberate obsolescence into our systems. We need to move away from that."
Leading businesses with a combined turnover of nearly £200 billion have written to the FT, warning that climate change is due to make UK flooding more frequent.
Signatories to the letter (see adjacent), which was co-ordinated by the Aldersgate Group, are Allianz, Anglian Water, Atkins, Aviva, Interface, Johnson Matthey, Kingfisher, Lloyds Banking Group, Mitie, Navigators and Swiss Re. The letter calls for prompt cross party political action to address the causes of climate change. While flood adaptation measures are critical, leadership is needed from all political parties to address the causes of climate change. Bold action will maximise investment and innovation to deliver resilience and future economic competitiveness.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: "These floods were caused by the worst winter downpour in 250 years and the clean up bill is already on course to cost £1 billion. But adapting to the changing climate without addressing the root causes is like dishing out painkillers when we need major surgery. Political parties must come together to show leadership beyond the parliamentary cycle."
Read the FT article about this letter (£) here.
The Prime Minister has supported the call from The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group, Aldersgate Group and E3G for ambitious initiatives on green growth as the UK implements commitments from the EU-China summit.
The organisations sent a letter in November 2013 setting out the critical opportunity to align European and Chinese interests on the green economy, and formulate a new approach to the EU-China relationship which maximises mutual opportunities and better manages trade tensions.
The PM recognised their incredibly useful work with Government departments to raise the issues and opportunities represented by liberalisation of green sectors and noted that all comments outlined in the letter were taken on board in preparation for the EU-China Summit. He advised that these are reflected in the resulting EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Co-operation.
Oliver Dudok Van Heel, Director at Aldersgate Group, told Guardian Sustainable Business that recent extreme weather events and increased political assertiveness provided an opportunity to mobilise businesses to step up climate change leadership.
Pointing to estimates of a £14bn hit to the UK economy from the recent flooding, he said: "What I am hoping for is a reversal of the post Copenhagen gloom, which led to a lack of political and business leadership. The floods are the evidence we need that the problems we face are current and real and will get worse."
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, has said that a range of pressures threatens to split society as the older generation thrives at the expense of the young.
Speaking at Your Green Future to over 350 school pupils representing more than half the secondary schools in Gloucestershire, he said that uncontrolled public debt, youth unemployment, rising inequality, falling living standards, resource constraints and climate change risks "mortgaging the future of the younger generation". He said it was vital that students ensured their voice is heard to help steer our politicians to better adapt to underlying global trends and grasp the economic opportunities.
Following the keynote speech, the Aldersgate Group ran a series of workshops to engage the pupils to create their vision for a thriving and successful UK economy.
Today the European Commission has published the white paper which sets out recommendations for EU climate and energy targets for 2030. The EU has already committed to a GHG reduction of 80-95% by 2050 and the year 2030 represents the halfway point. The paper recommends 40% GHG reductions, supported by an EU-wide 27% target for renewable energy but has delayed setting a target for energy efficiency.
Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group said: "The Aldersgate Group is very disappointed by the lack of ambition shown by the European Commission today. The UK Government has had the foresight to argue in favour of a 50% emissions reduction target, which would create jobs, save public money on healthcare and galvanise the rest of the world into taking ambitious action on climate change.
"The EC's decision to ignore the UK's recommendation is deeply short-sighted and dispiriting; a 40% target effectively locks out the possibility of a two degree temperature rise and puts our low carbon sector on an uncompetitive trajectory. This puts the brakes on growth in a sector that has been growing at nearly 4% a year. The progressive businesses, organisations and individuals that comprise our membership will be lending their support to our Government to ensure that this set-back does not become entrenched in EU policy."
Speaking at an Aldersgate Group reception, Climate Change Minister Greg Barker has downplayed fears the recent review of "green levies" will trigger a widespread rollback of environmental policies that could erode investor confidence in the low carbon economy.
Barker was speaking on progressive Conservatism, which he jokingly explained was "about more than just gay marriage and wind farms". However, he admitted that parts of the Conservative Party's modernising agenda had been sidelined, to make way for austerity policies designed to help reduce the country's deficit.
He stated that the party should now seek to take a more confident and radical approach that supports low carbon and innovative start-ups in the run-up to the 2015 election.