Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group has described the Chancellor's Autumn Statement as "a missed opportunity". He said:
"The Chancellor blames the rise of energy and commodity prices for damaging growth, but has not done enough to ensure the economy is more resilient to these threats. He is also wrong to claim that environmental regulation is a burden and cost on British business; it is a fundamental driver for growth of tomorrow's businesses and our future global competitiveness. Green policy should have been at the heart of the growth strategy, reducing our dependence on increasingly volatile global resource markets, stimulating investment and creating jobs."
The Autumn Statement revised projections for the UK's economy downwards in line with the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR)'s projections and acknowledged that it will not be possible to eradicate the UK's structural deficit by the end of this Parliament.
A new report by the Aldersgate Group (AG), launched at the the Global Business of Biodiversity Symposium today, finds that protecting biodiversity and introducing new frameworks to incorporate the value of nature into decision making will be vital to safeguard long-term economic growth. It points to research that conservatively estimates that the failure to address biodiversity loss will lead to cumulative losses that will be equivalent to around 7% of global consumption by 2050 and recommends by the end of this Parliament, the Chancellor should present a draft natural capital budget alongside the fiscal budget.
Peter Young, AG Chairman and member of the Government’s Ecosystem Markets Taskforce, said: "The protection of biodiversity must be a priority as we seek to build a stronger, more resilient economy. Preserving and replenishing services provided by nature will provide business opportunities now and huge economic benefits in the future.”
To read coverage in Guardian Sustainable Business, click here.
Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group, joined Ian Cheshire, Chief Executive of Kingfisher, and Caroline Spelman to launch the Ecosystem Markets Taskforce.
Peter Young said at the launch: "There is an unnerving similarity between the exceedence of sustainable ecosystem services and the exceedence of sustainable finance that has led to the sovereign debt crisis. Both rob future generations of riches which we have mortgaged or depleted. The timing of this task force is absolutely right to build on the recent National Ecosystem Assessment and pledge to produce Natural Capital accounts. I believe business is eager to lead in developing markets and opportunities to stop depletion and start enhancing the incredible value of services provided by nature."
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.
Mary Creagh, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, referenced the Aldersgate Group's (AG) study into the costs and benefits of carbon reporting in a Parliamentary debate on green growth yesterday. She said that "taking just one of the options, option 3, Aldersgate found that DEFRA had overestimated the total costs by up to £4.6 billion and underestimated the benefits by £980 million."
Click here to view the full transcript.
The Aldersgate Group (AG) welcomes a new BIS publication, "Skills for a Green Economy", which demonstrates the Government's recognition of the importance of training and skills in managing the transition to a resource efficient economy. Particularly, the report reflects a similar assessment of Britain's skills requirements with the AG's 2010 publication, Mind the Gap (see right).
John Edmonds, who leads the AG's workstream on skills, said: "The challenge for the Government is now to move from analysis to delivery. This will mean facing up to the central policy dilemma which is graphically described by BIS.
"At the moment Britain's skills policy is demand led. This requires British business to give clear messages to training providers. However "Skills for a Green Economy" recognises that many businesses are very uncertain about their future skill needs. To help resolve this problem, BIS argues sensibly for the provision of more readily available information to guide business decision makers but, given the size of the task and the need for early action, there is a case for the Government also considering a more interventionist approach."
The Aldersgate Group (AG) was referenced three times in the Environmental Audit Committee's (EAC) Carbon Budgets report: 1) The AG's recommendation that greater transparency of the UK's total carbon footprint would enable the carbon budgets to manage global climate change more effectively; 2) The AG's suggestion that to improve delivery of the carbon budgets, an independent body should monitor progress against the Carbon Plan and link the achievement of targets to annual performance reviews of senior civil servants; 3) The AG's view that when taking into account reasons for the geographical shift in manufacturing production, carbon leakage is only a genuine threat to a limited number of sectors.
To read the full report and AG's evidence, please see right.
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.
The Aldersgate Group (AG) and Ellen MacArthur Foundation are embarking on a joint initiative that seeks to identify the key challenges to accelerate the knowledge and practical skills required for all professions, in the transition to a new economy.
We want to hear from you. Click on the adjacent briefing to find out how to get involved.
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.
Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group joined a panel alongside the South African Ambassador at Large, at the Business for Environment Global Summit to discuss "Transforming policy to scale up green growth."
He highlighted the importance of leveraging private investment to address political and institutional risks, so that the market can address the technical risks, which it understands. "It's the political and institutional risk which is scaring off investors."
View the whole debate here.
Ramon Arratia, Sustainability Director for InterfaceFlor (an Aldersgate Group (AG) member), spoke on "Closed loop business models for the future" at the B4E Climate Summit.
He drew comparisons with nature, where organisms don't eat their own waste. "In nature, waste from one organism becomes the food for another organism, and this is what we've seen in our industry. Rather than just limiting ourselves to making carpet from recycling nylon from our own carpet, we saw the opportunity of recycling other things, like fishing nets in certain countries." The closed loop business model, Ramon argued, should not be restricted to closed loops, "but just loops", incorporating "scavenging" from other industries, a process which may be threatened by creation of new materials.
The full discussion can be seen here.
To mark the publication of Aldersgate Group's (AG) repsonse to the CRC simplification proposals, Chris Tuppen, AG Director, said "The Government's red tape challenge asks for suggestions on how to simplify environment and energy policy. At the same time a choir of voices including the Aldersgate Group, the CBI, and the OECD are calling on the Government to simplify their approach to carbon pricing. We urge DECC to take another look at the benefits to government and business of bringing together the CRC, CCL and CCAs."
Guardian Sustainable Business has published an article by Andrew Raingold, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group, on the CRC which can be viewed here.
Two Aldersgate Group (AG) Directors have been appointed to advisory groups that will make recommendations on the Government's better regulation agenda. Peter Young, AG Chairman, has been appointed in a personal capacity to the Defra Strategic Regulatory Scrutiny Panel which has been tasked with challenging and advising Defra on the way it thinks about regulation. In addition, Andrew Raingold, Executive Director, will sit on the Sounding Board for the Red Tape Challenge Environment Theme that is also being convened by Defra and will scrutinise regulatory proposals. The AG seeks to ensure that regulatory reform is primarily concerned with the effective achievement of outcomes, while reducing administrative burdens and maximising innovation potential.
Peter Young said: "I welcome Defra’s initiative in bringing outside scrutiny and expertise to work closely with officials to achieve the objective of what the Aldersgate Group has coined 'best value regulation'. I think it reflects our constructive dialogue and capacity to add value to policy reform that Andrew and I have been selected for these appointments and I look forward to extending my personal relationships within Defra further through this important work.’
Commenting on the launch of "Enabling the Transition to a Green Economy", Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group and member of the Green Economy Council said: "I have no hesitation in welcoming this suite of reports; the breadth and clarity of government commitment is exactly the kind of coherent policy making we have long argued for. The opportunity for the Green Economy Council to build on the government commitments and the businesses challenges laid out are encouraging for the future competitiveness of the UK.
"However the limp launch and lack of explicit endorsement by Number 10 and 11 is a warning that whilst the report rightly sets out to transform our whole economy, until the whole Government is visibly supporting this aim, the risk remains that more visionary leaders will steal the green economy race from right under our noses."
To see Andrew Raingold (Executive Director)'s article on Guardian Sustainable Business, click here.
AG's new lead for best-value regulation, Terry A'Hearn, calls for smarter regulation that would cut costs, simplify compliance, and spark “genuine business sustainability innovation”. In an article in ENDS, Terry draws on his 20 years’ experience in the Australian state of Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority (EPAV) to argue for the introduction of an "environmental driving license" and greater use of civil sanctions.
Reproduced with permission of The ENDS Report, the UK journal and website for environmental business and policy.
The Aldersgate Group's evidence on environmental taxation was referenced in an Environmental Audit Committee inquiry into Budget 2011 that was published today. The AG argued that the fair fuel stabiliser was a missed opportunity to reduce taxes on income rather than to pay for a decrease in Fuel Duty and that greening the economy should be at the heart of the Government's plans for growth. The AG's Executive Director, Andrew Raingold, appeared as a witness before the inquiry.
To read more, click here.
The Aldersgate Group (AG) has written to all UK-based MEPs to urge them not to undermine the Government’s commitment to increase the EU emissions reduction target to 30% by 2020. A crucial vote in the European Parliament is expected at lunchtime tomorrow.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “A 30% carbon reduction target would provide greater certainty for businesses to invest in tomorrow’s technologies, boosting innovation and creating jobs. This is vital if the EU is going to be at the forefront of a green industrial revolution and is not the enemy of competitiveness, as some have claimed. In fact, many of Britain’s biggest businesses are urging MEPs not to undermine the Prime Minister’s commitment to a 30% carbon reduction target.”
The AG supports the findings of a new progress report by the Committee on Climate Change which finds that an acceleration in the pace of emission reductions is required.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: "The Government should not hide behind carbon reductions that are a direct result of the recession. Much greater urgency is required if the UK is to meet its ambitious climate change targets and lead a green industrial revolution."
To read the CCC's 3rd progress report, click here.