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Launch of the UK Infrastructure Bank marks important milestone for recovery and net zero

17th June 2021

Reacting to the launch of the UK Infrastructure Bank, Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group, said: “The creation of the UK Infrastructure Bank is a vital and strongly welcomed intervention at a time where the UK economy needs to recover from the disruption brought about by the pandemic and put itself on track for net zero emissions. The Bank has a key role to play in crowding in much needed private investment towards crucial and complex low carbon projects and industries, which can drive innovation, supply chain growth and job creation across the country. However, with the Committee on Climate Change [1] highlighting yesterday that the UK is poorly prepared to deal with the impacts from climate change, it is essential that the Bank also has climate adaptation and nature restoration as a key part of its mandate. It is also key that the Bank be set up as an enduring institution, with the flexibility to tackle different market failures over time as market conditions evolve and with a gradual increase to its capitalisation to ensure that it has the right financial firepower to carry out its mission effectively and tackle the significant market barriers ahead.”

- ENDS -

[1] Climate Change Committee (2021) Independent Assessment of UK Climate Risk

Northern-Powerhouse

Future business resilience depends on urgent climate adaptation measures

16th June 2021

Reacting to the Climate Change Committee’s advice, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “Today’s high-quality analysis from the Climate Change Committee makes it abundantly clear that adapting to climate change is an environmental and economic imperative. In addition to devastating impacts on species and habitats, climate change will, without further urgent action, significantly disrupt the UK’s critical infrastructure, supply chains, food supply and business productivity. Businesses are clear that climate adaptation and the delivery of the UK’s net zero emissions target should both be cross-departmental priorities and be fully embedded across all areas of Government policy making.”

Nick Molho added: “A key message from today’s report is that restoring the natural environment – including soils, peatlands, wetlands and forests – will significantly improve the UK’s ability to cope with climate change as well as provide much needed negative emissions to deliver the net zero target. The Environment Bill could play a crucial, positive role here and we urge the Government to strengthen it by introducing binding interim targets that will drive rapid investment in nature restoration projects.”    

Nick Molho concluded: “Businesses also have an important and pro-active role to play in improving the future resilience of the economy. This should include regularly monitoring and disclosing their vulnerability to the physical and regulatory impacts related to climate change, reviewing the environmental impacts and resilience of their supply chains, incorporating climate change adaptation in everyday investment decisions and large corporations supporting smaller businesses in their supply chains to develop adaptation strategies.”  

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Regulatory reform needs to recognise economic benefits of ambitious climate and environmental regulations

16th June 2021

In response to the report produced by the Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform, Signe Norberg, Head of Public Affairs and Communications at the Aldersgate Group, said: “Regulation is a vital part of ensuring the competitiveness of UK industry, creating jobs, increasing innovation and driving investment in crucial technologies and goods. We welcome the Taskforce’s recommendation on reforming the UK regulatory framework for energy generation and distribution in line with the Government’s climate ambitions. However, while the report examines areas to modernise regulation and highlights important areas of innovation, such as transport, energy and finance, it fails to adequately incorporate Government’s environmental objectives and net zero ambitions, which will be essential to ensure that the UK builds back greener and creates a green industrial revolution.”
 
Signe Norberg added: “Businesses support ambitious, forward looking, well joined-up and properly enforced environmental regulations, policies and market mechanisms. [1] They are essential to creating a stable environment in which businesses can invest. Previous regulatory efforts have been insufficient in assessing wider social and environmental impacts [2], and to ensure we meet our objectives it is crucial that climate and environmental objectives are placed at the heart of the Government’s regulatory reform agenda.”

- ENDS -

[1] Buro Happold (2021) Fostering Prosperity: Driving innovation and creating market opportunities through environmental regulations, commissioned by the Aldersgate Group
[2] National Audit Office (2016) The Business Impact Target: cutting the cost of regulation

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Business coalition calling for the Planning Bill to deliver net zero and protect nature

14th June 2021

More than 100 prominent business leaders have written to the Prime Minister calling for the net zero transition, nature’s recovery, and climate resilience to be at the heart of the UK’s new planning system.

The letter, which has been co-ordinated by the Aldersgate Group and UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), welcomes the government’s commitments to addressing the housing crisis and reaching net zero by 2050. To ensure it meets its housing targets and environmental commitments, it is vital that the Planning Bill drives a strategic approach to the net zero transition, ensuring that development that is resilient to the impacts of climate change, and that nature can be supported and restored.

The signatories therefore call on the Prime Minister to ensure the new Planning Bill directly aligns with the obligations under the Climate Change Act and plans to reverse nature's decline in the Environment Bill. The letter highlights how planning can play a fundamental role in meeting the Government’s new homes target, achieving its environmental goals, and delivering the infrastructure that is needed for the transition to a decarbonised, climate-resilient economy.

The letter calls for:

  • The new Planning Bill to align directly with, and support, the UK’s net zero target and ambitions for nature set out in the Environment Bill.
  • Clarity on how land allocated for ‘growth’ will be compatible with achieving net zero, securing nature’s recovery and delivering development resilient to the impacts of climate change.
  • Genuinely enhanced levels of protection in planning for designations in the Envrionment Bill intended to support nature’s recovery.
  • Increased resourcing and skills support for local planning authorities, in order to support their abiltiy to set local targets, and deliver across multiple objectives in their local areas.  

The letter has been sent to the Prime Minister, alongside Secretaries of State Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Rt Hon George Eustice MP and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP.

Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive at UKGBC, said: “The upcoming Planning Bill has been earmarked as the biggest planning shake up since World War II and represents a critical opportunity to embed a strategic vision for a decarbonised and climate resilient economy, as well as reversing biodiversity decline. Planning is part of a wider system that is currently failing to deliver both the quality and quantity of homes needed to tackle the environmental and social challenges we face, and the upcoming reforms must form part of a coherent, long term commitment by the Government to environmental protection; one that gives developers clarity around low carbon, nature friendly investment.

“The number of businesses coming together to support this letter shows clear demand for climate change to be at the heart of our planning system, and I urge government to listen to industry and match the level of ambition set out in this letter.”

Signe Norberg, Head of Public Affairs and Communications at Aldersgate Group, said: “Reforms to the planning system present an opportunity for Government to not only tackle one of the most significant social challenges facing the country – the housing crisis – but also to ensure that our planning framework actively supports the UK’s climate and environmental ambitions. To reach net zero emissions by 2050 and reverse the decline of the natural environment, it will be essential that the planning system fully integrates these issues at the heart of the new legislation. By setting forward a strategic approach to planning in line with this, Government can unlock private sector investment, create jobs, generate vital low carbon skills, and build homes that are fit for the future.”


Response to Dasgupta Review good first step but further action needed

14th June 2021

Responding to the publication of the Government’s response to the Dasgupta Review, Signe Norberg, Head of Public Affairs and Communications at the Aldersgate Group, said: “It is positive to see the Government taking on board the findings from the Dasgupta Review and in particular the fact that economic and financial policy decision making has a crucial role to play in supporting the restoration of a healthy natural environment and ensuring the long-term resilience of the economy. The response also confirms that biodiversity net gain will apply to nationally significant infrastructure projects in England, which is an important development that helps bolster this important provision in the Environment Bill.”

Signe Norberg added: “However, today’s response does not amount to the necessary step change called for by Professor Sir Dasgupta. It is vital that the response goes further and clearly lays out a cross-departmental plan with a range of commitments that support the mainstreaming of nature into economic decision making. In addition to contributing to the Better Regulation Framework and supporting the development of nature-related financial disclosures, it is important that the whole of Government takes on the challenge posed by the Review and introduces new measures in the near and long term to support nature’s recovery. An ambitious Environment Bill, with binding interim targets and environmental improvement plans focused on delivering these targets, can play a key role in driving investment to restore the natural environment to the healthy status that our economy and society need.”

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Strengthened Environment Bill key to reach net zero and tackle biodiversity crisis

18th May 2021

In reaction to the Environment Secretary’s speech on nature, Signe Norberg, Head of Public Affairs and Communications at the Aldersgate Group, said: “It is positive to see a strong commitment today from Government on nature, highlighting the importance of biodiversity, peatlands and trees in delivering on our net zero target. To support net zero and tackle the biodiversity crisis, it will be important to see further improvements to the Environment Bill. In addition to the new species target, the Bill must be strengthened by legally binding interim targets and clearer links between environmental improvement plans and long-term targets. Finally, to realise the vision of the Dasgupta Review, Government needs to champion this agenda and its formal response needs to set out a clear action plan that details next steps for Government, business and civil society.”

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Global commitment to a green recovery and progress on carbon trading and climate finance key to successful COP26

14th May 2021

In response to the publication of the UK Government’s COP26 strategy, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “The UK is right to place a strong emphasis on delivering the 1.5 degree goal of the Paris Agreement and send a clear message on phasing out the use of coal globally. This approach is clearly supported by science and countries should aim for more ambition, not less, ahead of this important summit. Plans to push for all new car sales to be zero emissions by 2040 globally and radically increasing international finance to deliver on climate initiatives are also vital.” 
 
Nick Molho added: “However, recent analysis from the International Energy Agency tells us that many parts of the world are pursuing economic stimulus investments that are taking us away from the 1.5 degree goal. To close the gap, it is essential that the UK presidency continues its diplomatic efforts to secure increased climate commitments from the world’s key emitters and a global commitment to pursue and co-operate on delivering a green economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.”
 
Nick Molho concluded: “The confirmation that COP26 will be held in person sends a strong signal for international diplomatic negotiations in the months ahead. Particular areas of focus for negotiations must include finalising a rule book for a credible global carbon trading system under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement as well as delivering on today’s commitment to provide climate finance support for developing economies, which are often disproportionately impacted by the growing impacts from climate change. The UK can also strengthen its influence globally by publishing a detailed net zero delivery strategy well ahead of COP26, in a way that provides a clear policy plan for UK businesses and serves as a credible exemplar for other major economies to follow.”

—ENDS—

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Nature restoration and net zero emissions central to national recovery

11th May 2021

Following today’s State Opening of Parliament and Queen’s Speech, the Aldersgate Group calls on Government to embed climate and environmental considerations at the heart of the levelling up agenda.

Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group said: “The Queen’s Speech clearly set out the importance of delivering a national recovery from the pandemic and spreading economic opportunities across the country. Climate and environmental objectives are central to generating the geographically disperse investment and job creation the UK needs, and they should therefore be embedded at the heart of the Government’s legislative and policy programme.

“The first step must be to urgently bring forward the Environment Bill to progress vital amendments that will strengthen the Bill and allow for robust delivery of environmental targets. These include making interim targets binding and enhancing the linkages between the forthcoming environmental improvement plans and long-term targets. It is also crucial that the changes to procurement and planning policy announced today are consistent with and actively support the UK’s climate and environmental goals.”

Nick Molho added: “Alongside its legislative programme, it is critical that the Government further develops credible policy programmes to deliver on its net zero ambition in this parliamentary session. The highly-anticipated net zero strategy and Treasury’s net zero review must, together, provide a clear policy and funding plan to achieve net zero emissions and maximise opportunities for the economy in so doing.”
 
Nick Molho concluded: “Plans to spark a skills ‘revolution’ unveiled in the speech must prioritise delivery of a low carbon workforce that can drive the net zero transition. Government should carefully consider the upcoming recommendations from the Green Jobs Taskforce to prevent the supply chain issues that hindered the rollout of the Green Homes Grant.”  

—ENDS—

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Next parliamentary session vital to advance climate and environmental objectives

10th May 2021

Ahead of State Opening of Parliament and the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday 11 May, the Aldersgate Group calls on Government to place the Environment Bill at the top of its legislative programme. Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group said: “The Environment Bill must return to Parliament at pace to ensure that the UK establishes an ambitious environmental governance regime which will help reverse the decline of the natural environment. The Bill itself should also be strengthened through the introduction of binding interim targets that ensure continuous action to improve nature, the inclusion of an overarching target which helps guide long-term targets, and guarantees to safeguard the Office for Environmental Protection’s independence.”
 
Nick Molho added: “Climate and environmental objectives should also be embedded in the Government’s levelling up agenda to ensure that areas such as planning and public procurement contribute towards the UK’s ambitious targets. Incorporating these issues as a core part of the Government’s legislative agenda will help boost economic opportunities across the country and create jobs.”
 
Nick Molho concluded: “A clear funding strategy from Treasury and a policy programme focused on delivering the UK’s net zero target must also be priorities in the forthcoming parliamentary session. The highly anticipated net zero strategy needs to set out a detailed cross-sector plan across all government departments of what measures will be required in the near future. It must provide a sector-by-sector analysis and ensure that the Government’s economic and industrial policy, as well as its infrastructure spending decisions, are all fully aligned with this target.”

—ENDS—

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International climate commitments send a strong signal ahead of COP26

23rd April 2021

Reacting to the conclusion of the Leaders Summit on Climate hosted by US President Biden, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “The Leaders Summit on Climate has made a material contribution towards improving the outlook for COP26. The United States have sent a strong signal through their much improved target, with more positive contributions coming from the likes of Japan, Canada and China. The UK Government, which played its part by adopting the target set out in the Sixth Carbon Budget, must now drive increased pledges from all key emitters as well as a doubling down on key outstanding issues, such as climate finance for vulnerable nations and agreeing a clear rule book for carbon markets under the Paris Agreement." 

Nick Molho added: “The International Energy Agency made clear this week that on current trends, 2021 will result in the second biggest annual rise in emissions in history. The UK Government should use its leadership position as host of COP26 to obtain a commitment from all major economies to align economic stimulus investments with the goals of the Paris Agreement and collaborate on delivering a green economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. To maximise its influence in the run up to the COP26 climate summit, the UK should also match its ambitious climate targets with a comprehensive and tangible policy plan that will put all sectors of the UK economy on a credible pathway towards net zero emissions. This will serve as a credible example for other major economies to follow.”

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Welcome climate commitment must now be supported by detailed net zero strategy 

20th April 2021

Reacting to the announcement that the UK Government will set an emissions reduction target of 78% by 2035, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “The Government should be commended for adopting the ambitious and evidence-based recommendations from the Climate Change Committee for the Sixth Carbon Budget. The emission cuts set out in the Budget represent essential next steps the UK needs to take to ensure a credible, cost-effective, and timely pathway to net zero emissions by 2050. The inclusion of the UK’s share of international aviation and shipping emissions is a particularly welcome addition, and will help to accelerate the development of sector-specific decarbonisation plans.

"Focus must now turn to strengthening the UK’s policy framework to meet this new target, by putting in place a detailed and cross-departmental net zero strategy that will drive private investment in low carbon goods and services, supply chains, jobs and skills.”

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Reaction to the termination of the Green Homes Grant

28th March 2021

Reacting to the end of the Green Homes Grant, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: "The premature end of the Green Homes Grant is a significant disappointment. Improving energy efficiency and slashing heating emissions from the UK’s homes is a vital, foundational step on the journey to achieve net zero emissions. It is also one of the most promising avenues to create jobs in the near-term as the UK economy recovers from the impact of the pandemic. There are many reasons for the difficulties encountered by the Grant, a key one being the lack of an adequately skilled supply chain, itself caused by the absence of a long-term policy on energy efficiency and low carbon heat for many years now."

Nick Molho added: "Beyond the funding provided to local authorities for low income households, the Government must rapidly provide a new, long-term solution for ‘able to pay’ homes. This must include urgent investment to develop energy efficiency and low carbon heat installation skills across the supply chain, binding regulatory standards to require all UK homes to operate at low levels of carbon emissions by 2035, and targeted fiscal or funding incentives to make it attractive for home owners to green their houses. An ambitious Future Homes Standard policy will also be essential to ensure all new homes are ultra-low carbon from the outset. Without a detailed and long-term policy to drive low carbon investment in homes and buildings, the UK will simply not be able to put itself on a pathway to net zero emissions."

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Net zero strategy and low carbon skills crucial for oil and gas decarbonisation

24th March 2021

Reacting to the North Sea Deal, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “This North Sea Deal recognises the importance of helping all key economic sectors and their workforce transition towards net zero emissions and is therefore an important step forward. With the right policy framework and low carbon skills strategy, the move to net zero emissions can create significant employment opportunities for the UK’s oil and gas workforce, whose skills will much needed in contributing to the huge infrastructure deployment challenge facing the UK in areas such as marine renewable energy, carbon capture and hydrogen. Putting in place a detailed net zero strategy in the near future will be key to ensuring that the transition to net zero emissions can occur in a timely fashion and in a way that delivers economic and social benefits to the UK.”
 
Nick Molho added: “Tackling the net zero emissions challenge in a way that is credible and effective requires the UK’s domestic and global climate policy to be consistent. We strongly welcome the UK’s commitment to stop funding fossil-fuel projects overseas and would call on any exceptions to be strictly limited, based on transparent and very tightly defined criteria.”

Oil & Gas

Aligning CAP with the Paris Agreement

22nd March 2021

In a paper published today, the Aldersgate Group joins an alliance of investors to call on the European Union to align reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with European Climate Law and the Paris Agreement.

Representing €2 trillion of assets, the alliance highlights four recommendations to promote enhanced carbon mitigation and negative emissions. It will also enhance resilience for climate adaption, biodiversity and global food security. These recommendations are:

  1. Encourage use of enforceable performance-based targets which link support to member states and farmers, commensurate with the cost of delivering public good or environmental services;
  2. Shift away from incentives that prioritise yields at the expense of the climate and environment, and balance this with new monetary incentives that put a value on sustainable agriculture;
  3. Decouple support from production metrics for single commodity transfers with high associated greenhouse gas emissions (e.g. beef and dairy);
  4. Apply the Just Transition Mechanism to support farmers’ social and economic well-being, where impacted by CAP reforms.

If implemented, these recommendations would unlock the potential for private finance to have a transformative impact on the sector by supporting the decarbonisation agricultural and land-use practices. The recommendations are derived from the paper, which was authored by Legal & General Investment Management and experts at Chatham House.

In publishing the paper, Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group, said:
“The Common Agricultural Policy could be used as a powerful tool to drive a thriving European agricultural sector, whilst also delivering significant environmental improvements. Business and investors are today coming together to call for an ambitious programme that will not only support sustainable food production but also promote public goods such as nature restoration, biodiversity net gain and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The EU’s commitment to climate neutrality by 2050, its ambitious commitments on biodiversity restoration by 2030 and the overall ambition of the European Green Deal all provide a unique – and long awaited - opportunity to align agricultural and land use policy with the EU’s climate and environmental goals.”

Alexander Burr, ESG Policy Lead at Legal & General Investment Management, said: "We are all becoming increasingly alert to the size and scale of risk that climate change poses to sustainable economic growth. As long-term investors, and stewards of our clients’ assets, we engage with businesses across the food and agriculture sector to help them transition towards a net-zero economy. However, to truly effect change we seek stronger action from policymakers. Working with this alliance, we at LGIM, view the reform of the EU CAP as an opportunity for the EC to once again be bold and ambitious; and, we should demonstrate to the world how agricultural subsidies can support – and not undermine - the transition."

Tim Benton, Director of Energy, Environment and Resources Programme at Chatham House: "The EU is taking steps to align the land-use sector with the Paris Agreement through the Green Deal and the updated Bioeconomy Strategy. By encouraging climate to be at the heart of its subsidy packages, alongside food security, farmer wellbeing and dietary health, the Common Agricultural Policy could work in tandem with these other strategies if ambitiously applied. The EU can support a land-based economy that works for people and planet and create a system that prioritizes not just output but food quality."

Helena Wright, Policy Director at FAIRR said: "Governments have committed under Article 2.1c of the Paris Agreement to make finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions, and there is no way to achieve that without transformation of the animal agriculture sector. Current EU agricultural subsidies are not aligned with climate or biodiversity objectives. Investors recognize that CAP reform is critical for the agriculture and food sector itself which faces hugely increased costs of water, feed, and infrastructure damage due to more extreme weather events."

Faith Ward, Chief Responsible Investment Officer at Brunel Pension Partnership, said: "For the EU to meet its own climate targets and move in line with the Paris Agreement targets, it urgently needs to reform the Common Agricultural Policy, agreeing stronger enforcement measures, removing misaligned incentives and ending support for high-emission commodities. I support the recommendations of this letter to bring meaningful reform to the CAP based on our shared climate goals"

Peter van der Werf, Senior Engagement Specialist at Robeco, said: "Robeco has been engaging with large-scale agricultural producers for many years in our program to improve sustainability in the meat and fish supply chain. We can’t solve these issues alone, and some of the main barriers for further improvements in sustainability have to be resolved by policy makers. We have started engaging with the Brazilian government to ensure environmental protection is enforced. At the same time it’s equally important is to achieve subsidy reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in Europe to ensure that any subsidies provide the right incentives for farmers to align with the Paris Agreement. Ultimately the CAP should achieve a circular business model for farmers that provides a sound economic basis for their farming operation."

Nina Roth, Director for Responsible Investment at BMO Global Asset Management, said: "BMO Global Asset Management is engaging companies along the food and agriculture value chain, including its financiers, on improving sustainable practices to combat climate change and biodiversity loss. Strong incentives in the CAP are vital for transforming the industry."

Ben McCarron, Managing Director at Asia Research & Engagement, said: "We support these recommendations as a stronger approach to environmental management in the agricultural sector is needed to meet global targets for climate and create a stronger food industry. There needs to be stronger incentives to improve the way land is treated, not to degrade it."


Resource efficiency crucial for meeting net zero, driving resilience and creating jobs

18th March 2021

Reacting to the publication today of the government’s Consultation on the Waste Prevention Programme for England, Kate Young, Senior Public Affairs Officer at the Aldersgate Group said: “The resource efficiency proposals announced today put significant weight behind the Government’s intention to move towards a circular economy. There is a much-needed focus on transforming production and consumption through re-use, repair and re-manufacture, and it will be pivotal to integrate these ambitions across the economy.

Kate Young added: The development of sector-specific measures also represents substantial progress, and will be vital to providing a clear framework for meeting our net zero emissions target, supporting business resilience, and creating jobs. Proposals to set product requirements for durability, repairability and recyclability, introduce extended producer responsibility for new sectors to stimulate reuse and prevention, use public procurement for remanufactured ICT devices, and introduce eco-design principles for the automotive sector are all highly encouraging and could have a sizeable impact on reducing the consumption of raw materials.”

Kate Young concluded: “Given the breadth of measures announced today are subject to consultation, the government must now ensure rapid progress over the next year to embed these ambitious proposals across the economy, particularly given the lack of policy progress in the area over the previous three years. In implementing these commitments, Government should aim high - voluntary reporting and schemes should be scaled up and translated into mandatory actions where possible to provide certainty to businesses and achieve truly transformative change. This will be essential to improve economic resilience during recovery from COVID-19, strengthen global competitiveness and meet our net zero and Environment Bill targets. [1]

—ENDS—

[1] The Aldersgate Group is currently producing a policy briefing to be published in the Spring, setting out how the UK Government can strengthen and accelerate its efforts to drive greater resource efficiency across the economy, which will include a comprehensive response to proposals in the Revised Waste Prevention Programme.

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Welcome ambition to cut industrial emissions must come with clear market mechanisms

17th March 2021

Reacting to the publication of the Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “We welcome the ambition to cut heavy industrial emissions by at least two-thirds by 2035. With continued ambitious support on innovation and the development of stable market mechanisms, the decarbonisation of heavy industry can provide UK businesses with competitive advantages in the production of low carbon industrial goods and deliver significant benefits in terms of job creation, skills development and the revival of industrial heartlands in many parts of the UK.   
 
The funding under the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge Fund will make a welcome contribution to the potential development of key technologies like CCUS and hydrogen production, but it is important that such funding continues to be made available in the years to come to help accelerate the demonstration of these technologies at scale.”

Nick Molho added: “Building on efforts to accelerate innovation, it will be essential for the UK Government to put in place a comprehensive set of long-term policies that drives timely and cost-effective private investment in industrial decarbonisation and strengthens the competitiveness of UK businesses in the process. [1] This requires ensuring that the price of carbon under the UK Emissions Trading Scheme is clearly aligned with the net zero target, with the use of free allowances gradually reducing and the UK considering a linkage between the UK and EU ETS on the basis of a shared ambition for climate neutrality.
 
Product standards that drive improvements in resource efficiency and embodied carbon in the production process could be very effective at stimulating private investment and providing a level playing field, with well-designed carbon border adjustment measures also needing to be considered. The development of these policy measures also provides the opportunity to develop collaborative approaches on industrial decarbonisation with other large emitting economies at COP26 and beyond.”
 
Nick Molho concluded: “It is important that the UK’s ongoing approach on industrial decarbonisation does not just focus on industrial clusters. [2] British industries like cement, glass or ceramics are located outside of clusters and face additional challenges to deploying technologies like CCS, particularly due to the uncertain availability of transport and storage infrastructure and limits to economies of scale. Additional and more tailored policy incentives will be required for these dispersed industries, including support for electrification, developing new carbon capture and usage business models and fiscal incentives to drive greater resource efficiency.”

—ENDS—

[1] Aldersgate Group (October 2020) Building a net zero emissions economy: next steps for government and business
 
[2] Aldersgate Group has commissioned Frontier Economics to develop analysis on the policy framework required for decarbonising both industrial clusters and dispersed sites. The final report will include detailed case studies on how those policies will impact businesses in sectors such as steel, cement, chemicals and glass.

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Ambitious principles key to putting environment at the heart of policy making

10th March 2021

Reacting to the publication of the draft environmental principles policy statement, Signe Norberg, Head of Public Affairs and Communications at the Aldersgate Group, said: "This publication marks a crucial step forward in progressing the Environment Bill ahead of Royal Assent and, ultimately, placing environment at the heart of UK policy making. However, to achieve this goal the policy statement must be highly ambitious so that it can generate the desired economic, social and environmental benefits. The environmental principles are a crucial element of this. Having clear and ambitious principles integrated into Government policy provides a clear direction of travel, and creates market signals which will allow businesses to innovate, invest in new low carbon goods and services, grow supply chains and create jobs. [1] We look forward to working with Government on the policy statement during the consultation process."

- ENDS -

[1] On 2 March 2021, the Aldersgate Group published its latest report, Fostering Prosperity: Driving innovation and creating market opportunities through environmental regulations, written by global design engineering consultancy Buro Happold. The report finds that ambitious and well-designed environmental regulations have a track record of delivering significant economic and environmental benefits. You can access the report here

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Investment-led recovery must be supported by a comprehensive net zero vision

3rd March 2021

Reacting to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Spring Budget today, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: "It is welcome to see the Budget acknowledge the importance of an investment-led recovery, which will be essential to supporting the UK’s economic growth and the development and deployment of low carbon technologies and services [1]. Whilst today’s announcements set a useful framework towards economic recovery, there are a number of significant missed opportunities within key areas such as housing and transport that must be picked up in the Government’s upcoming net zero strategy, which needs to provide a cross-economy roadmap to reach our net zero target by 2050. [2]” 

Nick Molho added: "The establishment of the first UK Infrastructure Bank in Leeds is a crucial step in this journey, with an initial capitalisation of £12bn and £10 billion of guarantees. We would urge Government to include environmental objectives in the Bank’s remit in order to increase the UK’s resilience in the long-term. [3] Further information on the UK’s first sovereign green bond is also welcomed, but it will be essential that the funding is aligned with our net zero objectives in order to support a sustainable economic recovery. The recognition of net zero and sustainability in the updated remit of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England is also a helpful signal to support the transition to a low emissions economy.”

Nick Molho added: “However, the Budget falls short of providing certainty for the housing sector by not explicitly setting out further funding for the Green Homes Grant. This is a concerning omission and one that must be rectified at the earliest opportunity with additional policy measures that address supply chain and skills issues. This clarity and support will be vital in decarbonising the housing sector, alongside regulatory standards and fiscal incentives to support investment in energy efficiency and low carbon heat.”

 
- ENDS -

[1] CCC (2017) UK business opportunities of moving to a low carbon economy
[2] Aldersgate Group (2020) Building a net zero emissions economy https://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/asset/1697
[3] Zenghelis, D. and Rydge, J. (2020) Rebuilding to Last: designing an inclusive and resilient growth strategy after COVID-19, Commissioned by Aldersgate Group https://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/asset/1684

 

 

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Ambitious environmental regulations are key to the UK’s economic recovery

2nd March 2021

Today, the Aldersgate Group releases a new report, Fostering Prosperity [1], which shows that ambitious and well-designed environmental regulations have a track record of delivering significant economic and environmental benefits. The report, written by global design engineering consultancy Buro Happold, highlights that the business community sees ambitious environmental regulation as a key driver to aid the UK’s economic recovery and achieve its net zero emissions target and other environmental ambitions. The Aldersgate Group calls on Government to recognise the value and importance of ambitious environmental regulations as part of its ongoing regulatory review [2].

The report is based on a review of specific environmental regulations in the construction, waste and automotive sectors and interviews with 20 business leaders and practitioners. It finds that the regulations studied in these sectors have delivered growing business investment in innovation, new products and services, job creation and skills.

For example, the London Plan, which establishes requirements for improving the sustainability of housing developments in London, has supported over £100 million worth of investment in heat networks, solar PV installation and carbon offsets in 2018 alone [4]. The Landfill Tax has been a net positive job creator for the waste sector and transitioning towards a more resource efficient economy could generate the creation of a further 500,000 jobs [5]. In the automotive sector, the transition to electric vehicles could generate around £3 billion of private investment and 30,000 new jobs by 2030 [6].  

Interviews carried out as part of the report show strong business support for ambitious, forward looking, well joined-up and properly enforced environmental regulations, policies and market mechanisms. These are seen as essential to drive business investment in low carbon goods and services, which will support the UK’s economic recovery and put the UK on track to meet its net zero emissions target and the ambitions set out in the Environment Bill and Resources and Waste Strategy.

Key recommendations include:

  • The UK government’s ongoing regulatory review must recognise the important economic benefits of well-designed and ambitious environmental regulations and the central role they will need to play to put the UK on track for its climate and environmental targets.  
  • To support business investment, good environmental regulation should be forward-looking, with clear and ambitious targets that tighten over time.
  • Environmental regulations and standards must not sit in a silo. To be economically and environmentally effective, environmental regulations should be carefully joined up across sectors and with the UK’s overall industrial strategy. They should promote high degrees of resource efficiency and be accompanied by investment in supporting infrastructure (such as charging infrastructure for electric vehicles), research and development, skills and market access.
  • Environmental and low carbon policy should shift away from a culture of compliance and towards one of high environmental performance, promoting investment, upskilling and the sharing of resources.
  • Environmental regulations are only effective in shifting corporate behaviour and driving business investment if they are robustly and fairly enforced. Going forward, the role of regulators and local authorities should be enhanced, not diluted, with funding put in place to allow them to robustly enforce standards despite pressure on public finances.

Nick Molho, Executive Director, Aldersgate Group, said: “We urge the Government’s Taskforce on Regulatory Reform to look at environmental regulations not as red tape, but instead as drivers of innovation, job creation and skills. If the UK is to have a durable economic recovery and put itself on a credible pathway to build a thriving net zero emissions economy, then the Government must put ambitious and well-designed environmental regulations at the heart of economic policy making.”

Joan Walley, Chair, the Aldersgate Group, said: "The government's binding commitments to zero carbon and to nature protection need a detailed delivery plan. Evidence-based environmental regulations are integral to this and sustainable prosperity. Aldersgate Group's members have first-hand experience of best practice on this and are leading the call for ambitious environmental standards."

Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said: “The UK Government hosts the G7 and the COP26 climate conference this year where discussions will focus on the economic recovery opportunities in decarbonisation and restoring nature. We have everything to gain from this in terms of jobs, trade, green goods, services and technologies. But, if polluters don’t pay and enforcement activity is underfunded, then bad practitioners will undermine the leadership and ambition of many British businesses. The Green Industrial Revolution needs strong Green Industrial Regulation.”

Maria Smith, Director of Sustainability & Physics, Buro Happold, said: “As a society, we're facing huge interconnected economic and environmental challenges that have been exacerbated and laid bare by the Covid-19 pandemic. This report shows how ambitious environmental regulation can help the Government facilitate prosperity and create the infrastructure for a thriving business landscape that meets the UK's environmental targets.”

Gabrielle Ginér, Head of Environmental Sustainability, BT Group said: “With the second largest commercial fleet in the UK, we’ve outlined plans to electrify up to 28,000 of our vehicles by 2030 and we’ve successfully campaigned for an end to petrol and diesel vehicles sales by the end of the decade. We now need the UK Government to make sure that the right policies and regulation are in place to support the mass adoption of electric vehicles - focussing on supply, price and availability of infrastructure such as charging points across the country.”

Martin Casey, Director Public Affairs Europe, CEMEX, said: “CEMEX very much welcomes this important report from Buro Happold for the Aldersgate Group; having well designed, clear and properly enforced environmental regulations is a pre-requisite to our business being able to operate efficiently. They enable us to make the right investments and decisions, and give confidence to our employees, neighbours, shareholders, and investors alike.”

Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development and Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity, said: “This timely report finally busts the age old myth that regulation holds back prosperity. Ambitious, forward-looking, consistent regulation has the potential to deliver a resilient green recovery: healthier lives, better jobs and a more sustainable economy.”

Chris Smith, Managing Director, Michelin Tyre PLC, said: “Michelin believes strongly that sustainability is the key success factor of any company. This means reuniting profit, care for people and protection of the planet. Our commitment to sustainability can only fuel our belief that the recovery from the current crisis can only be green. With talk of building back better and building back greener, now is time for government to be bold and use environmental regulation to ensure that we are on track to meet the decarbonisation targets set out in the Paris Accord and help achieve the benefits of the circular economy through enhanced resource efficiency.”

Olivia Whitlam, Head of Sustainability, Siemens plc, said: “Long term direction setting supported by appropriate incentives is critical to creating the certainty that business needs to help deliver on the UK’s Net Zero target. As this report shows, smart and well targeted regulations have the potential to drive innovation in the Infrastructure and Transport sectors, leading to job creation and helping to facilitate a fair transition to the sustainable and resilient economy we all want to see.”

Dr Adam Read, External Affairs Director, SUEZ, said: “Regulation has been key to driving innovation and investment in the waste sector for many years. With significant reform to waste and resources policy underway, our sector is expected to play a central role in delivering both a green recovery and a transition to a more circular economy. Appropriate and consistent regulation will ensure emerging policies fulfil their potential. A more integrated approach to policy setting and regulation will promote the investment and innovation needed to deliver the economic and environmental benefits of a resource efficient economy and drive decarbonisation in other sectors.”

Julia Barrett, Chief Sustainability Officer, Willmott Dixon, said: “We warmly welcome this briefing from the Aldersgate Group. With construction and operation of buildings accounting for nearly 40% of global carbon emissions, Willmott Dixon has long advocated that well-designed and effectively enforced environmental regulations are a driver for enhanced business performance and growth. With the drive to net-zero this is truer now than it has ever been, providing the imperative to innovate and improve, to unlock opportunities for ourselves, our customers, our supply chain partners and the communities we work in.”

—ENDS—

Notes to Editor

The Aldersgate Group is an alliance of leaders from business, politics and civil society that drives action for a sustainable economy. Our members include some of the largest businesses in the UK with a collective global turnover of over £550bn, leading NGOs, professional institutes, public sector bodies, trade associations and politicians from across the political spectrum. Our mission is to trigger the change in policy required to address environmental challenges effectively and secure economic benefits for the UK in doing so.

Buro Happold is an international, integrated consultancy of engineers, consultants and advisers. Operating in 26 locations worldwide, with 54 partners and over 1,900 employees; for over 40 years we have built a world-class reputation for delivering creative, value led solutions for an ever challenging world. 

[1] Fostering Prosperity: driving innovation and creating market opportunities through environmental regulations is written by BuroHappold and commissioned by the Aldersgate Group. The full report can be found here.

[2] Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (2 February 2021) Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform (TIGRR) Terms of Reference

[3] The key findings of the report will be presented at a webinar on Tuesday 2 March at 9.30am, which will include a range of business speakers and a keynote speech from Emma Howard-Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency. To attend the event, please register here.

[4] Greater London Authority (2018) Monitoring the implementation of the London Plan Energy Policies in 2018

[5] BuroHappold (2017) Help or Hinderance? Environmental Regulations and Competitiveness

WRAP (2020) How Moving to A Circular Economy can help the UK to Build Back Better

[6] Cambridge Economics (2020) The impact of a 2030 ICE phaseout in the UK, commissioned by Greenpeace


National Infrastructure Bank must drive investment in low carbon and natural capital projects

8th February 2021

The Aldersgate Group is part of a group of twenty organisations which wrote a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week to make recommendations for the design and mission of the new UK National Infrastructure Bank, as announced in the 2020 Spending Review. As the UK faces the triple crises of climate, biodiversity and COVID-19, the Aldersgate Group believes that a core focus of the Bank should be to play a vital role in setting long-term committed public funding and unlocking further private finance. This approach can drive the Prime Minister’s desire for a green industrial revolution across the country and help the UK bounce back from the COVID-19 crisis.  

The Bank should be established as a mission-driven institution with a legal mandate to achieve the levelling up agenda, the UK’s net zero emissions target and its ambition to reverse the decline of the natural environment within a generation. The Bank’s primary objective should be to genuinely address market failures and act as a de-risking vehicle to ‘crowd in’ private capital towards the technologies, skills and institutions that will be needed to build a thriving net zero emissions economy. These should include the emerging technologies needed to decarbonise complex parts of the economy, such as hydrogen and carbon capture, use and storage, but also natural capital and nature-based solutions.

Alongside twenty other signatories, the Aldersgate Group believes that the National Infrastructure Bank should be fully independent, led by an experienced public banker and a board which reflects the sectors with which the bank will interact. It should also have sufficient funding to carry out its mission and functions. Finally, signatories call on the Bank to have the power to access capital markets for both debt and equity, and to create opportunities for citizens to participate and invest in the UK’s transition to a net zero emissions economy.

The letter to the Chancellor was supported by a detailed policy briefing accessible here.


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