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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 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