Two AG members, Caroline Lucas MP and Tim Yeo MP, put down an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill to permit the Green Investment Bank (GIB) to borrow from the capital markets before June 2015, subject to state aid approval. While this did not succeed, BIS Minister Matthew Hancock MP said during the Commons debate that the Government has "been very clear about our commitment to allow borrowing and will look at how best to bring that clarity".
This follows a letter that was signed by Andrew Raingold, AG's Executive Director, to the Deputy Prime Minister which calls for the Liberal Democrats to implement the policy positions adopted at their party conference on decarbonising the UK's power grid and earlier borrowing powers for the GIB. In addition, the state aid approval for the GIB has been approved by the European Commission.
Speaking at the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum, Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said that the Green Investment Bank (GIB) must strengthen the measures for the green mandate in legislation. He noted that "investment in fossil fuel infrastructure that was more efficient than industry standards would meet the current requirements for green purposes" and it should be strengthened with reference to the Climate Change Act and explicitly ruling out dirty technologies. The Aldersgate Group is also calling for the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill to include an amendment on borrowing to provide greater certainty to investors and this was raised a number of times during the Second Reading in Parliament last week.
The AG welcomes a new report by the Environmental Audit Committee which calls for green investment to play a key role in the UK's economic recovery. Its publication on the green economy strongly reflects the AG's position and references the AG's evidence fifteen times in the report. This includes recommendations on the need for a comprehensive green economy vision and framework, a smarter approach to regulation, a more strategic approach to skills, a new mindset for procurement to drive innovation and principles for policy certainty.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group and an oral witness to the inquiry, said: "The committee warn that the Government's deregulation agenda is stalling the green economy. There is significant scope for a pro-business, outcome based approach to regulatory reform and a more strategic approach to assert leadership in the green economy race."
To read the report, click here.
In an article in the Guardian, Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Defra, has set out her vision for greening the economy in the run up to Rio+20. She says that "I'll take my seat alongside British business leaders at the Aldersgate Rio+20 Business Summit where we'll debate the opportunities and the challenges of transforming our whole economy to one geared towards long-term green growth".
To read the article, click here.
Responding to the Queen's speech, Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: "It is welcome that the Green Investment Bank will be on the parliamentary programme this year as it can be a vital engine for growth. Powers to borrow must be enshrined in legislation, for the institution to maximise its potential to benefit the economy and provide certainty to investors."
See coverage in Environmental Finance here.
The Aldersgate Group, an alliance of businesses and environmental groups, backed by public opinion, has called on the Government to ensure large companies report annual information on their greenhouse gas emissions.
The Aldersgate Group has written to Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, to push for a positive decision on mandatory carbon reporting and has published a Populus poll which finds that more than 75 percent of 2,044 adults surveyed across the United Kingdom said large businesses should be required to report carbon emissions.
Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group, said: “It is exceptional for a policy to have such widespread support from business, civil society and the general public. This reflects the need for greater corporate transparency on environmental and social impacts. The public expects companies to report more than just profits and bonuses.”
The Aldersgate Group (AG) and Defra recently organised a joint roundtable discussion on sustainable procurement for a range of businesses and public sector bodies to discuss how it can best contribute to sustainable growth.
Defra Minister, Lord Taylor, said: "This is a really important forum. It originates from the AG's report on green growth so it is derived from the work the Group originally did and in which the Government has taken a particular interest. I am pleased we've been able to build on that paper in discussions and what we see is the importance of sustainable public procurement as a driver for the economy."
The first output of the work will be published in the summer. For Defra's overview and more information, click here.
The Aldersgate Group (AG) has joined the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Coalition which is calling on all United Nations Member States to commit to develop a Convention on Corporate Sustainability Reporting at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). This includes a commitment by UN Member States to develop national regulations, formal codes or listing rules that encourage the integration of material sustainability issues within the annual report of all listed and large private companies. It would include the option for companies to opt out by explaining their rationale for not complying. For more information, click here.
The convention is open to supporters from business, financial institutions, professional bodies and NGOs. For further information, contact William Pomroy, Public Policy Manager, Aviva (email@example.com).
The Government has announced that "no decision" has been made on regulations to introduce mandatory carbon reporting. The decision to delay effectively means that the Government has met the name but not the intention of the requirements in the Climate Change Act that were introduced four years ago, following a campaign by the Aldersgate Group (AG).
Peter Young, Chairman of the AG, said: “Business has been patiently waiting for a clear signal to level the playing field on carbon reporting. Voluntary systems have run out of road and the UK risks losing its lead in carbon reporting, accounting and reduction. This failure to act now undermines business’ call for much greater transparency and consistency from Government.”
“As Ministers seek to reach an informed decision, urgency is paramount. Businesses cannot be left in the dark for months on end. There is great pressure to introduce mandatory carbon reporting as soon and widely as practical.”
For more information, read our press release. Click here for Guardian article.
Commenting on the 2012 Budget, Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group (AG), said: "The Budget was a missed opportunity to align the reforms to support growth with green policy and so stimulate sustainable growth in reality as well as in name." In the run up to Budget, fifty companies and green groups supported the AG's call for a credible growth strategy that catalyses investment in clean technologies.
Mr Young added: "The proposal to publish a strategy to promote gas generation and tax breaks for oil exploration sits uncomfortably with our statutory carbon budgets which future chancellors may regret. Equivalent tax measures for low carbon investment would have stimulated jobs fit for the future and provided more resilience to our economy."
Some of the UK's largest businesses and green groups have called on the Chancellor to deliver on the Government's commitment to be "the greenest ever". In an open letter published in the run up to the Budget, it calls for a credible growth strategy that catalyses investment in renewables and energy efficiency, spurring the economic recovery.
Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group, said: "The Chancellor's view that businesses and jobs will be lost in the pursuit of green goals seems to signal a return to a 1980s view of the environmental performance of the economy as a net cost, and to row back from previous statements made by this Government. On the contrary, as this letter makes clear, good environmental performance is now a prerequisite for economic competitiveness and growth in a resource constrained world."
For more on this story click here.
Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group (AG), told Bloomberg that the GIB should be able to issue bonds to help finance clean-energy projects such as renewable technologies from April 2013. He said that "the earlier bonds are issued, the faster we should get the Green Investment Bank leveraging off institutional investors and deploying capital at the scale the low carbon transition needs to meet our carbon targets and economic imperatives." For the full Bloomberg article, click here.
Commenting on the announcement on location a few days later, Peter said, "We welcome the decision and in particular the opportunity for the GIB to have a dual presence in both London and Edinburgh. This will ensure proximity to the London financial centre which will be vital, but also create a talent pool based nearer some of the key markets for low carbon project delivery, such as Scottish marine renewables. We look forward to swift recruitment to build the excellent expertise necessary to build market confidence in the GIB."
An open letter to Ed Davey was published in the Sunday Telegraph (12th February), signed by the AG alongside key businesses. It supports the need for credible long-term policies and vocal ministerial support across Government, to give businesses sufficient certainty to invest in the UK's transition to a low carbon economy. Other signatories included Kingfisher, M&S, National Grid, RSA, Thames Water, Unilever, Vodafone and WWF.
The Aldersgate Group's lead on best-value regulation, Terry A'Hearn, has told the Cambridge Sustainability Network that we need to reinvent our regulatory systems in face of new challenges.
He said, "We need a regulatory revolution because the nature of the challenges societies must confront in the 21st century is fundamentally different from those of the 20th century. The major challenges of the 21st century are systemic in nature. They will throw into question the resilience of our systems." New regulations should reduce public expenditure and be made redundant through its own success over a 10-year period, as well as increase profitability to business.
Speaking at an Aldersgate Group (AG) event, the DECC Shadow Secretary of State has challenged the Coalition Government's green credentials and called for an industrial strategy to promote green growth. She argued against the view that economic growth and environmental sustainability are inherently irreconcilable saying, "We can grow our economy and benefit the planet."
To read the Guardian article covering this speech, click here.
Chris Huhne, DECC Secretary of State, announced that the UK will provide administrative support to the UN's Green Climate Fund at the Aldersgate Group reception on the climate change talks at Durban. He stated, "I'm pleased to announce today that the UK government will contribute to the set-up costs of the fund during 2012 and of course we will also be considering a substantial contribution to its activities once it's fully operational". Other countries contributing to the set-up costs of the Green Climate Fund include the Republic of Korea, Germany and Denmark.
He also defended the Coalition's environmental performance declaring, "we are absolutely on course to be the greenest government ever".
The AG joined a UK delegation to discuss the green economy with Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, Environment Minister Pearl and Foreign Minister Holguin, during the President's visit to London this week.
The meeting took place at the British Council one week before the next round of climate change talks at Durban. Both the UK and Colombia are active proponents of a legally binding deal on climate change, with Colombia making up a significant proportion of global forestry as well as being an important emerging economy.
The UK delegation included AG's Executive Director, Andrew Raingold and AG member Andrew Slight, Head of External Affairs at PepsiCo.
The Aldersgate Group (AG) today launched a Growth Statement at Parliament, calling for the Chancellor’s Autumn Financial Statement to remove barriers to growth and shift the economy to a more resilient and resource-efficient path.
Peter Young, Chairman of the AG, said: "There is an urgent need for the Government to reassure markets of its commitment to decarbonising the UK economy to meet our long term carbon budgets, and to provide an investment-ready path for sustained growth. The current international uncertainties underline the need for the Treasury’s Autumn Statement to support the Government’s green goals, which are vital for investment and jobs. Funds and companies will be attracted to the UK as a global leader in delivering a high tech resource efficient society.”
To read the coverage of this in the Guardian, please click here.
Click here to read the Aldersgate Group's (AG) written evidence on the Green Economy submitted to the Environmental Audit Committee. It sets out recommendations to address key barriers, priorities for action and the development of the Enabling the Transition to a Green Economy report.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group (AG), told the EAC committee the government's definition for a green economy should incorporate social aspects of sustainable development, focus on employment impacts and reflect the Government commitment to put natural capital at the heart of economic decision making. To listen to the evidence session, click here.
AG's calls for the Government to green the Plan for Growth and bring forward the date the GIB can borrow from 2015 was reflected in an article in today's FT.