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New leaders, new members: Aldersgate Group gears up for the next parliament

24th March 2015

The Aldersgate Group is delighted to announce the appointments of Joan Walley as new Chair and Dame Fiona Woolf CBE as new Honorary President as well as the recruitment of five new corporate members: DONG Energy (UK), Siemens UK, Vattenfall UK, Interserve and BuroHappold.

Joan Walley, who has been a Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent North for an uninterrupted 28 years, will be stepping down as an MP in 2015. She is known for her remarkable cross-party work on environmental issues, especially in her role as chair of the highly respected Environmental Audit Select Committee from 2010 to 2015.

Dame Fiona brings global business experience to the Aldersgate Group, built upon a legal career in energy that included advising over 28 governments and the World Bank. In recognition of these and other achievements, she was awarded a CBE in 2002 and a DBE in 2014. She is Alderman for the Ward of Candlewick and was only the second woman to be Lord Mayor of London (in 2013-14) when she strongly promoted the sustainable economy.

Dame Fiona and Joan Walley will assume their roles from 1st May 2015, when Peter Young takes a planned step down from Chair of the Aldersgate Group after eight years. He will remain a Director.

DONG Energy (UK), Siemens UK, Vattenfall UK, Interserve and BuroHappold are all joining the Aldersgate Group and will considerably enhance the Group’s profile in the energy, manufacturing, construction, engineering and consultancy sectors. Their corporate strategies reflect the challenging but necessary transition to a low carbon and resource efficient economy that the Aldersgate Group promotes. The arrival of these new members illustrate the growing importance of environmental issues to the business world, an issue that all parties should take note of in the run-up to a General Election.

Peter Young, outgoing Chair of the Aldersgate Group said: “I have been privileged to lead the Aldersgate Group as its Chair for the past eight years and I am delighted to see our leadership in the hands of such respected and experienced successors.

“When I took over as Chair, Aldersgate was a fledgling group making the case for high environmental standards because they are good for the economy and good for business. A contentious argument in 2007, today Aldersgate Group’s founding ethos has gathered support and the Group is now the pre-eminent, progressive business voice on the environment, with many successes in changing government policy to its credit. These appointments give a strong signal that the Group is ready to plan an even more influential role in making the next government act seriously on climate change and the environment.”

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “Peter’s wisdom, expertise and generosity with his time have played a large part in the Aldersgate Group rapid increase in size and influence. I now look forward to working closely with Joan and Fiona to continue building on his great work and ensure that the next government puts environmental policy at the heart of its economic plan.”

Joan Walley, Chair of the Aldersgate Group said: “I have had considerable exposure to the Aldersgate Group’s work in my capacity as Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee. The quality of their work and their effort in building cross-party consensus on environmental issues has helped to inform the UK environmental debate over the past five years. I very much look forward to taking a hands-on role in that debate in the years ahead and continuing to increase the profile of their work.”

Dame Fiona Woolf CBE, Honorary President of the Aldersgate Group said: “I have watched the Aldersgate Group’s work for several years and always respected their determination to find practical solutions to complex environmental issues. I particularly welcomed their recent Manifesto Report, which is the ultimate reference tool for how to transition to a low carbon economy and to tackle other important environmental issues in a way that creates growth, jobs and business for UK plc. I am very much looking forward to working with the Aldersgate Group members and staff to assist the next government and the key stakeholders to capture the benefit of these insights.” 

Juergen Maier, Chief Executive, Siemens plc said: “When it comes to the low carbon economy, most people would associate Siemens in the UK with our successful wind turbine business, but sustainability and the efficient use of energy is at the heart of everything that we do, from our transport solutions to our building technologies. For us this is a win-win situation: we can do our part as a responsible corporate citizen to help promote sustainability and it is good for our bottom line too.

“Addressing environmental issues, however, can only be achieved in partnership with others.  In this respect the Aldersgate Group is a strong platform for bringing together like-minded businesses in order to develop policy solutions and undertake advocacy to tackle climate change and other key environmental challenges. We look forward to playing an active role in supporting the Group’s work.”

Danielle Lane, Head of Regulatory and Stakeholder Affairs at DONG Energy (UK) said: “We are delighted to be joining the Aldersgate Group at this crucial time in the UK’s transition towards a decarbonised energy system. DONG Energy believes the green transformation of our energy supplies is necessary and achievable. Since 2006, we have transformed from being one of the most coal-intensive utilities in Europe to a leader in renewable energy. To complete this revolution in our business model, we need the right policy framework and we are convinced that the Aldersgate Group can help us to engage with government in a progressive, practical fashion that will achieve it." 

Piers Guy, UK Country Manager at Vattenfall said: “Vattenfall has supported the UK economy with investments of close to £3bn in UK wind power in the past five years as part of our shift to low carbon generation across the whole company. This is largely thanks to the UK’s ambitious action on decarbonisation and climate change. We will work with the Aldersgate Group to help maintain and develop these ambitions so that the energy industry can continue to invest in UK renewables.”

Mat Roberts, Director of Sustainability Strategy at Interserve said: “We are very much looking forward to working with the Aldersgate Group, whose messages we find particularly powerful because they come from such a wide range of businesses, civil society organisations and cross-party politicians. Our SustainAbilities plan challenges us to have a positive impact on the environment and society, while better understanding the role of various forms of capital in our business. Membership of the Aldersgate Group will give us the access to corporate peers and officials that will allow us to manage the risks and increase the opportunities of our drive towards being a sustainable business.” 

Duncan Price, Director of Sustainability, at BuroHappold Engineering said: “The low carbon economy is already thriving with unprecedented opportunities for those businesses willing to tackle the problems. As engineers, we're focused on delivering creative, value-led sustainability solutions for buildings, cities and the wider economy. Now is a great time to join the Aldersgate Group to ensure we can help shape the policies that will put the whole of the UK on course to benefit from this transition. With a track record of expertise in relevant sectors that spans four decades, we’re in this for the long term.”

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Environmental policy has its place at the heart of UK’s economic plan

18th March 2015

Reacting to today’s announcement on the 2015 Budget by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Aldersgate Group urged all political parties to put environmental policy at the heart of their economic proposals ahead of the next General Election. 

The Aldersgate Group highlighted in particular that there is increased evidence that policies to promote resource efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and improve the state of the UK’s natural capital could all deliver net economic benefits to the UK as well as make the UK economy better able to cope with future supply risks, whether these be linked to the availability of fossil fuels, key materials or local environmental resources such as water.

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “At a time where there is mounting evidence that ambitious policies to reduce carbon emissions, improve resource efficiency and protect our natural capital could deliver net economic gains to the UK and make our economy more robust to future resource shocks, it is in our national interest to put the environment at the heart of our country’s economic plan.”

Highlighting that today’s budget didn’t do much to recognise the important economic potential of environmental policies beyond the welcome support for a new tidal power scheme, Nick Molho added: “The upcoming election is a unique opportunity for all parties to integrate environmental policy as a key part of their economic proposals and show that they want the next Parliament to build an economy that will be competitive, secure and sustainable in the long-term.”  

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Six thought leaders demand action for an economy that works

13th March 2015

In a new report out today, jointly published by the Aldersgate Group and An Economy That Works Alliance, independent experts set out policy proposals to get the UK a step closer to a better functioning economy. Each is ripe for implementation by the next Government. 

This new report on “An Economy That Works” initiative, the last one to be wholly sponsored by the Aldersgate Group, hosts contributions from leading experts on one facet of the six core areas of An Economy That Works: high employment, equality of opportunity, wellbeing, low carbon development, zero waste and enhancing the UK’s natural capital. 

Contributions include:

  • A proposal by Susanne Barker of the manufacturers’ association EEF to set a goal to match the OECD average on government R&D spend to boost employment in the UK;
  • A proposal by Duncan Exley of the Equality Trust to put equality of opportunity at the heart of the UK’s industrial strategies to boost the economy’s competitiveness;
  • A proposal by Christine Berry of the New Economics Foundation to put wellbeing at the heart of business models and the UK’s economic policymaking;
  • A proposal by Ben Caldecott of Oxford University’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment for the UK Government to introduce a scheme to retire the UK’s remaining sub-critical coal power stations by the end of 2020 to tackle carbon emissions in the UK’s power sector;
  • A proposal by Prof Paul Ekins OBE of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources to introduce an environmental tax reform to boost the resource efficiency of the UK’s economy;
  • A proposal by Toby Roxburgh and Karen Ellis at WWF-UK to introduce a new programme to “stress test” the risks to the UK economy caused by the depletion of the UK’s natural resources, similar to the stress testing approach used in the UK’s banking system.
  • A proposal by Oliver Dudok van Heel of the Economy That Works Alliance to define clear headline indicators that will enable us to measure the UK’s progress towards an economy that works.

Peter Young, Chair of the Aldersgate Group, said: “This new report brings exciting new policy ideas from authoritative experts to deliver key benefits for our future economy, environment and society. If the UK economy is to prosper in the long run, the next Government needs to adopt synergistic policies like these to strengthen environmental and social drivers at the heart of a sound economic plan.”

Peter Young added: “Having created and developed An Economy That Works over the last 18 months, it is now time for An Economy That Works alliance to develop the next stage independent from the Aldersgate Group. This is important if it is to achieve the breadth and integration of interests which it was designed to reach. This report should give a taste of what policies might be successfully advocated, and we trust that An Economy That Works will now develop its initiative to bring coherence and new thinking beyond the environmental focus that the Aldersgate Group can provide.” 

Oliver Dudok van Heel, Executive Director of An Economy That Works Alliance, said: “This report sets the tone for the next stage of the development of the Economy That Works Alliance, by turning our vision into concrete policy proposals that will enable the transition to an economy that delivers prosperity, competitiveness and sustainability to the UK: an economy that works. 

“In keeping with the collaborative nature of the initiative, each proposal was developed by a different expert in the field, building on their own work and the expertise of their organisation, in full alignment with the overarching aims of An Economy That Works.”

Find the full report here.

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Resource efficiency vital for business competitiveness

3rd March 2015

In a new report published today, the Aldersgate Group called on the next Government to make significant fiscal and regulatory reforms to help UK businesses be more resource efficient and boost the UK’s economic competitiveness. 

UK-based businesses are facing competitive threats posed by overseas competitors and increasing volatility in the prices of raw materials. To survive and thrive, some businesses are now moving away from the traditional economic model of ‘take-make-use-dispose’ and moving towards more “circular” processes that allow them to re-use materials. But as the Aldersgate Group points out today, this is happening despite several regulatory and tax barriers that are hampering businesses’ ability to be more resource efficient.

A new report by the Aldersgate Group, Resource Efficient Business Models: the roadmap to resilience and prosperity, published today, sets out the initial findings of an EU LIFE+ funded project, REBus. This three-year project, of which the Aldersgate Group is a key a partner, will support 30 pilot schemes to test how businesses can achieve a 30% reduction in resource consumption by 2020. Pilots are being run by large organisations and SMEs, all receiving technical expertise and support.

Steve Wallace, an Aldersgate Group Director who leads their REBus project work said: "To secure long term prosperity our nation must be resource efficient. A growing number of forward thinking companies are adopting resource efficient business models and, through our involvement in the EU LIFE+ funded project REBus, we are supporting more to do the same."

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, added: “To make a real difference, a more coordinated approach supported by a better regulation agenda is needed to make resource efficiency the easiest and most financially rewarding choice for businesses. The report that we are launching today sets out the critical actions required to accelerate the transition to a more resource efficient and therefore more prosperous economy."

See the full report here.

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