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Skills deficit needs to be urgently tackled to get to net zero

15th October 2020

In its latest briefing out today, Upskilling the UK workforce for the 21st century, the Aldersgate Group calls for urgent action to plug the deficit in skills that currently undermines the growth of low carbon supply chains across the UK economy. The Group calls in particular for a new low carbon skills strategy that embeds sustainability across the national curriculum and teacher training standards, supports higher and further education institutions to better meet the needs of local employers and updates apprenticeship standards and mid-career reskilling qualifications to equip the workforce with the skills needed in a net zero emissions economy.

The UK economy has long faced significant challenges in terms of skill shortages and regional inequalities, with some 91% of businesses recently saying they face a skills deficit [1] and the economies of Yorkshire and the Humber, the North East, and the West Midlands growing at less than half the rate of London’s economy between 1998 and 2016 [2]. The COVID-19 crisis has amplified these challenges and brought with it a huge increase in unemployment and in particular, youth unemployment. Against this backdrop but also recognising the significant job creation potential provided by the transition to a net zero emissions economy [3], the Aldersgate Group argues today that low carbon skills provision must become a national policy priority.

Building on the Government’s recent announcement to expand post-18 education and training, the Group calls for a comprehensive low carbon skills strategy based on five key recommendations:

1. Environmental sustainability and the net zero goal should be fully embedded in the national curriculum across all stages of the education system from primary to tertiary education. This should include a requirement on Further and Higher Education Institutions to put in place skills’ action plans to ensure students are provided with the right practical skills when they leave and to address the lack of gender and ethnic diversity in STEM subjects that will be increasingly key in a net zero emissions economy;

2. This focus on sustainability should be fully reflected in teaching qualifications and the governance of the education system. With 75% of teachers saying they haven’t received adequate training to educate students about climate change [4], the Aldersgate Group calls for teaching standards and the Initial Teacher Training Content Framework to be updated to equip teachers with the right knowledge. The briefing also argues that regulatory bodies such as Ofsted should be required to place greater emphasis on quality of sustainability teaching as part of their assessment of schools and other educational institutions.

3. Higher Education and Further Education Institutions should be supported and encouraged to tailor courses, training and qualifications that more closely match the needs of local employers and low carbon job creation. The employer-led STEM education and training curriculum put in place by the Newcastle College Energy Academy, which is training future engineers and technicians in the renewable energy sector, provides a good example in this regard.

4. Funding, research and development support, and business partnerships need to be increasingly targeted to educational institutions that are not located in the ‘Golden Triangle’ between Oxford, Cambridge and London and which have received less support to date. This is essential to ensure that education institutions across the country are well equipped to provide the low carbon skills required in their area. Businesses in the offshore wind sector which have regularly supported local University Technical Colleges and universities in the areas they operate provide a good precedent for other businesses to follow.

5. To have an effective net zero education system, the UK needs to reform its approach to apprenticeship standards and mid-career reskilling. Apprenticeship standards should require and incentivise businesses to provide their apprentices with core low carbon skills that go beyond a business’ immediate and short-term priorities. Recognising the complexities of mid-career reskilling, government policy should support Higher Education Institutions to develop new, short-term training and qualifications on low carbon skills to make it easier for those already on the job market to transition towards employment opportunities in a net zero emissions economy.   

Beyond putting in place a comprehensive low carbon skills strategy, the Aldersgate Group calls for progress in two complementary areas that are essential to grow low carbon supply chains:

6. Building on recent policy announcements in areas such as in offshore wind, the Government should progress work to put in place a comprehensive policy plan that will put the UK on a credible pathway towards its net zero target [5]. A clear suite of policies will be essential to grow demand in low carbon infrastructure, goods and services, with positive knock on impact on job creation and demand for low carbon skills. This should include rapid regulatory and fiscal policy decisions to grow private investment in ‘low-regret’ areas such as buildings, surface transport, power and waste. It should also include an accelerated innovation programme to trial critical technologies to cut emissions in more complex parts of the economy such as heavy industry, agriculture and long-distance transport.

7. Local bodies must be better empowered to support low carbon investment, job creation and skills provision in their areas given that they are often better placed to understand local needs. Building on the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016, local bodies should be provided with greater policy autonomy as well as multi-year funding to support investment in critical local projects such as low carbon transport and energy infrastructure. Creating a National Investment Bank - with a mandate to grow low carbon investments in regions most in need of economic regeneration – and setting up a National Skills Commission to co-ordinate the development of the UK’s skill strategy between national government, businesses and local bodies could play a key role in growing low carbon supply chains and skills across the country.

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “Skills policy has been a missing link in the UK’s clean growth ambitions for too long. The move to a net zero emissions economy comes with a significant job creation potential which is matched by growing public enthusiasm to play an active role in this transition. Together with putting together a comprehensive policy plan to put the UK on track for its target, government must prioritise the development of an ambitious and carefully co-ordinated low carbon skills strategy and ensure that education institutions across the country are supported in this process.” 

Lexie Jones, CEO at Change Agents UK, said: “We strongly support the call for a national skills strategy that integrates efforts from government, business and the education sector to focus on the delivery of the challenging targets for Net Zero and the Sustainable Development Goals. Young people who were already facing a precarious future have seen this further compromised by the COVID19 pandemic – we must act now to ensure they have the skills, knowledge and experience they will need to succeed as we enter this most challenging global period.”

Iain Patton, CEO at EAUC, said: “The Higher and Further Education sectors have been taking steps towards Net Zero and slowly bridging the skills gap for many years. Recently, we have seen a huge step forwards in this sector on the Net Zero agenda, with a new education Climate Commission creating climate action roadmaps and the sector working collaboratively to ensure education is ahead of the curve. The skills disconnect now needs to take a similar sized step to ensure young people are receiving future-proofed qualifications, and those in work and unemployed are upskilled to maximise the opportunities a  low carbon economy will bring.”

Iain Patton added: “The suggestions made by Aldersgate Group in this policy briefing, which we have fed into, chime well with our own findings (‘Future Graduate Skills: a scoping study’ is released on 14 October). We must redress the decades long disconnect between skills provision from education providers, and the skills required by employers. Post-pandemic recovery and the race to Net Zero have created the impetus to do just this. We will be working with the education sector on skills action plans, the embedding of sustainability into all courses and a new skills-based kickstart scheme. We will also work closely with business, and push the Government to create the skills strategies and Commission required to make this a success nationwide.”

Professor Aled Jones, Director of Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University, said: “The Aldersgate Group highlight the vital work that is required to upskill the UK workforce to ensure it is resilient to the changes that are coming over the next three decades. By transitioning our economy to net zero the UK will unlock a swathe of opportunities that we will only be able to realise if we have the skills needed to deliver. At Anglia Ruskin University we have embedded sustainability across all our courses through our academic regulations, but this needs to happen right across further and higher education so that we remain world leading.”

Mark Essex, Director of Skills at KPMG UK, said: “We echo the call for a low-carbon skills strategy. The skills needed to deliver a net-zero economy are vital to help boost productivity and reduce unemployment. This is particularly important for those entering the job market today, facing an uncertain future.  Whether in manufacturing for the renewable energy supply chain, or converting our stock of housing to net-zero heating and cooking, these are nationally distributed, high-skilled jobs.”

Professor Mary Ryan, Director, Transition to Zero Pollution Initiative, Imperial College London and Professor Martin Siegert Co-Director Grantham Institute, Imperial College London, said: “To transition successfully to a net-zero carbon society within the next three decades will require profound adjustments in business, behaviour and policy. Those in education today will spend the bulk of their careers within this transition. It is essential that we equip them with the skills and knowledge needed for the challenges they face. Coupling knowledge of climate change with more traditional subjects like economics, chemistry, engineering and medicine, and many others, will ensure that future leaders can appreciate how to build a successful, sustainable and clean economy, and why this matters to the future habitability of the planet.“

Michelle Hubert, Acting Head of Public Affairs and Policy at National Grid, said: “We’ve made real progress towards our decarbonisation goals, for example, last year, we saw zero carbon electricity outstrip fossil fuels for the first time. This is really exciting but there is still a long way to go. At National Grid, we’re innovating and investing to help with that journey. But the only way we can do it is if we have the right people on board. We need a diverse workforce across the energy sector, with a diverse set of skills if we’re going to deliver on the UK’s ambitions.”

Olivia Whitlam, Head of Sustainability at Siemens Plc, said: “We welcome Aldersgate Group’s briefing on skills, which rightly highlights the urgency of tackling skills gaps across the country. Siemens has a long history of promoting skills development in the UK. As we look to future, it is imperative to develop an inclusive and long-term approach to deliver the green skills we will need to enable us to decarbonise, and to build a fairer society.”

Larissa Kennedy, NUS and SOS-UK President, said: “According to the Local Government Association, in 2018 there were 185,000 full-time workers in England’s low-carbon and renewable energy economy, but that could rise to 694,000 by 2030, and 1.2 million by 2050, but only if we close the skills gap. Covid has hastened the decline of jobs in high carbon sectors, so we now urgently need the Government to take action and support our further education sector to provide reskilling opportunities and deliver a just transition for people across the UK. This important report provides a road map for immediate action.”

Dr. Adam Read, External Affairs Director at SUEZ, said: “At SUEZ we welcome this Aldersgate Group briefing and fully support the call for UK government, businesses and the education system to work together in equipping our future workforce with the right skills to build an inclusive and competitive low carbon economy. At SUEZ we have been helping to develop the resource and waste sector’s thinking on future services, infrastructure and solutions as we progress green recovery, the circular economy and strive to meet the changing demands placed upon us from EPR, DRS and consistent collection reforms. We will be putting our own asks and offers to Government early in 2021 along similar lines to those proposed by the Aldersgate Group.”

Adam Read added: “In June 2021 I will become the President of the CIWM, and my presidential theme will be all about the skills needed in a circular economy, one that delivers decarbonisation and green recovery over the next 30 years. I will be launching a new suite of services through CIWM to attract new talent, upskill existing members and build new career paths with transferable qualifications and skills to support the huge number of opportunities that will arise from changing consumption patterns and customer demands from our services and products. We must all work together, with Government, academia, schools and businesses to ensure we are ready for the transition, with new courses, on the job opportunities, apprenticeships and academies in place to support this new skills agenda, and the hard work must start now.”

Bevis Watts, CEO, Triodos Bank UK: “With the Covid-19 crisis and the shortcomings of our current economic system, it is clear that we need to shift to a net zero economy to address the climate emergency. While this transition will see the loss of employment in some sectors, the growth in established sectors like renewable energy and energy efficiency retrofit – and the emergence of new opportunities like sustainable transport and nature-based investment – will create huge demand for skilled new jobs, which can lead a green and more resilient recovery. We must ensure that government, industry and education institutions work together to ensure the right training and opportunities are in place to meet this challenge”

Prof Dave Reay, Chair in Carbon Management & Education at University of Edinburgh, said: “These recommendations could not be more timely. Education is right at the heart of realising a green recovery and this report shows just how vital investment in skills will be in securing livelihoods today and a safer climate tomorrow. Aldersgate Group have here set out a truly climate-smart strategy for skills and education in the UK; one that acknowledges local and regional priorities and that addresses head-on the inequalities that COVID-19 is magnifying. These rapid and concerted actions would make the UK an exemplar in its approach to COVID-19 recovery and underpin our sustainable transition to net zero for decades to come. This is cool thinking in a multiple emergency.”

John Weir, Talent and Skills Lead at Aura, University of Hull, said: “We at Aura and the University of Hull welcome today’s briefing by the Aldersgate Group, and its recommendations which come at a most opportune moment, following on from the recent government announcement of an additional £160m of funding for the low carbon sector. We support the call by the Aldersgate Group for government, industry and the education system to collaborate in designing a “fit for the future” talent development pipeline that will engage people and be effective in delivering a successful low carbon economy. As a leading University delivering on the government’s Offshore Wind Sector Deal, these recommendations will both support our ongoing commitment to offshore wind talent development and help tackle the challenge of trying to grow and diversify our workforce.”

John Weir added: “We here at the Aura Centre for Doctoral Training already offer fully-funded PhD scholarships in offshore wind energy and the environment, providing a home for the world’s brightest minds to develop environmental and engineering solutions for the offshore wind industry. With the support of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, Aura also offers an MSc Apprenticeship in Offshore Wind Energy Engineering through the University of Hull, and recently launched a CPD course in offshore wind to provide ongoing work based professional training to employees from across the industry.”

Julia Barrett, Chief Sustainability Officer at Willmott Dixon, said: “We warmly welcome Aldersgate Group’s new briefing on upskilling the UK workforce. At Willmott Dixon, we have just announced what we believe are the construction industry’s most ambitious sustainability targets because we believe that putting net zero and green growth at the heart of our business is core to our continued business growth.  We are confident that this will provide long-term and viable jobs in construction, while also helping to tackle social inequality and safeguarding the health and wellbeing of future generations. A low carbon skills strategy that embeds sustainability and net zero delivery across the whole education system including apprenticeships, will support us and our supply chain partners in helping the UK become a world-leading, competitive and low carbon economy.”

Jim Coleman, Director – Head of Economics at WSP, said: “To date, the skills agenda has been an under-developed element of the low carbon and net zero economic story. Recovery will only be possible with significant planning around skills enhancement, the access and inclusion that comes from this, and our ability to create a specialised, low-carbon labour force for the future. This Aldersgate Group briefing is a very valuable and necessary contribution to the debate.”


[1] The Open University (July 2018) Business Barometer 2018

[2] UK2070 Commission (February 2020) Make No Little Plans –Acting at Scale for a Fairer and Stronger Future

[3] For instance, according to National Grid (January 2020) Building the Net Zero Energy Workforce, the transition to a net zero emissions economy is anticipated to require 400,000 roles just in the energy sector.


[5] The Aldersgate Group launched a report Building a Net Zero Emissions Economy: next steps for government and business, setting out some of the key policy decisions that need to be taken in this parliamentary term to put the UK on a credible pathway to building a competitive, net zero emissions economy. The report is available at:

The future of UK carbon pricing: an Aldersgate Group position paper

14th October 2020

Ahead of the Government’s decision on the future of UK carbon pricing, which is expected in the next few weeks, the Aldersgate Group publishes today a short position paper on the future of carbon pricing in the UK. In this position paper, the Group stresses that the priority for a future carbon pricing regime is for it to set an ambitious, gradually increasing and predictable carbon price trajectory that is in line with the UK’s net zero emissions target and is carefully designed to ensure that domestic industry is adequately supported in the transition to a net zero emissions economy.  

The Group stresses that the two options facing the UK Government - a UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) and adopting an economy-wide Carbon Emissions Tax – both have their merit. However, the Group considers that a UK ETS would, on balance, be the most effective of the two schemes. Carbon pricing introduced as a tax instrument is likely to be perceived by investors as the option that is more vulnerable to future political changes, which could undermine the multi-year investment signal that the new carbon pricing regime must provide. It would also provide less continuity with the carbon pricing regime which businesses covered by the EU ETS have been dealing with to date. The Group highlights however that a CET could potentially be used as an interim option whilst a UK ETS is being set up.

Ana Musat, Policy Manager of the Aldersgate Group, said: "Setting up a robust UK ETS underpinned by a growing carbon price floor and aligned with the net zero target could provide a highly effective investment signal in low carbon technologies across the economy. Whilst they have their merit, carbon taxes tend to be perceived as more sensitive to short-term policy changes, which could undermine investor confidence in the stability of a long-term carbon price at a time when low carbon investment should ramp up significantly. However, to guard against any policy gaps until a robust UK ETS is set up and ensure that the whole economy is subject to a form of carbon pricing in the near future, a tax on carbon accompanied by a price floor and a predictable escalator could be used as an interim back-up option."

Increase in offshore wind ambition takes UK closer to full decarbonisation of power sector

6th October 2020

Reacting to the Prime Minister’s upcoming announcement today to increase the UK’s ambition on offshore wind, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “The Prime Minister’s announcement to increase the UK’s offshore wind ambition to 40GW by 2030 is a very important milestone in the UK’s continued efforts to decarbonise its power sector. To deliver this target in a timely and economically beneficial way, the Government must provide the sector with sufficiently ambitious, regular and predictable project auctions throughout the 2020s. The much needed commitment to invest in port infrastructure is a welcome commitment and should be matched by a clear focus on low carbon skills, both of which are essential to grow domestic supply chains and create jobs in the sector.”  

Nick Molho added: “Ahead of the Prime Minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, it is essential that Ofgem’s final determinations for RIIO-2 – which will set price controls for power companies over the next five years – allow businesses to make the necessary investments to strengthen the transmission and distribution systems, increase the grid’s storage capacity and equip the system operator with the tools it needs to reliably operate a modern power system increasingly based on renewable energy generation.” [1]   

[1] On 5th October, the Aldersgate Group launched a new report, Building a Net Zero Emissions Economy, which sets out key policy measures which need to be taken in this parliamentary term to put the UK economy on track for net zero emissions. The report is available here


Businesses call for urgent policy decisions to put UK economy on track for net zero emissions

5th October 2020

Following extensive cross-industry and civil society engagement, the Aldersgate Group launches a new report today, setting out some of the key policy decisions that need to be taken in this parliamentary term to put the UK on a credible pathway to building a competitive, net zero emissions economy. The Group calls on the government to bring these together as part of a comprehensive net zero delivery plan.

The report, Building a net zero emissions economy [1], provides an in-depth overview of the near-term policy interventions required across a range of economic sectors to reach the net zero emissions target. Building on growing business [2] and public calls [3] to align the UK’s economic recovery strategy with the net zero target, the report argues that policy decisions in the early 2020s will be essential to grow private sector investment in low carbon technologies and services, strengthen the UK’s economic recovery and support efforts to tackle regional and social inequalities. Having a comprehensive net zero delivery plan in place will also strengthen the UK’s influence as host of the G7 and COP26 summits in 2021.

Based on recent government announcements but also the recognition that the UK is currently off track for meeting its interim targets under the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, the Aldersgate Group calls for an overarching strategy to align policy interventions in the buildings, transport, power, heavy industry, agricultural, land management and finance sectors and calls on the government to put in place a trade and diplomatic policy that is consistent with its net zero target.

Key recommendations include:  

1. Pressing ahead with policy and regulatory measures to cut emissions in buildings, surface transport, power and waste. These are ‘low regret’ areas where the required technological solutions and business models to cut emissions are well known. Building on recent consultations and economic stimulus announcements, government should introduce binding energy efficiency standards for new and existing buildings, continue to support energy efficiency retrofits through the Green Homes Grant and fiscal incentives such as stamp duty rebates and make a decision to phase out the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.

Other key recommendations include setting a clear carbon price trajectory for the 2020s that is aligned with the net zero target and ensuring that final decisions on the regulatory framework for the 2021-2026 ‘RIIO-2’ price control period supports the necessary investments that will be required to modernise and complete the decarbonisation of the power sector. 

2. Focusing innovation efforts to support large scale trials of technologies and business models that will be essential to cut emissions in ‘hard to treat’ sectors such as heavy industry, agriculture and aviation. These include at scale trials of Carbon Capture and Storage, hydrogen production and use, battery technology and more resource efficient business models. The report highlights that consolidating recent funding for these technologies will be key in supporting an efficient innovation programme and that trials should work hand in hand with developing new market mechanisms, such as low carbon product standards for industrial goods and CO2 storage incentives. These are essential to grow market demand for low carbon goods and services, provide a level playing field and strengthen the competitiveness of UK businesses.

3. Growing the potential for negative emissions by creating a market for nature-based solutions and supporting scalable trials of potentially promising negative emissions technologies (NETs). The use of nature-based solutions should be supported through a robust carbon price to adequately reflect their contribution to carbon removal and their co-benefits. This will attract more consistent investment from companies looking to offset emissions and deliver against environmental improvement objectives. Nature-based solutions illustrate the importance of ensuring that the net zero delivery agenda works hand in hand with the finalisation of the Environment Bill and the Agriculture Bill.

The Government should use its upcoming £100m competition for greenhouse gas removal technologies as the first step to trial the potential of technologies such as Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) and Direct Air Capture and Carbon Storage (DACCS) [4] and identify some of the market mechanisms that would be needed to support their future deployment.

Given the high cost of NETs and the limited space available for nature-based solutions, the use of negative emission solutions should not undermine the imperative of reducing emissions across all sectors.

4. Strengthening the Government’s Green Finance Strategy by creating a well-capitalised National Investment Bank, with a clear mandate to support investment in complex low carbon projects and direct low carbon investment towards regions in need of economic regeneration.

Other key priorities should include making TCFD-aligned climate risk disclosures mandatory ahead of COP26, continuing to support the British Standards Institute in the development of new green finance management standards, acting on the lessons from the Bank of England’s upcoming climate stress testing of the UK’s largest banks and insurers, and improve the risk profile for green investment through the introduction of a ‘brown penalising factor’ as part of a reform of capital weighting requirements.

5. Tackling the ‘levelling up’ challenge, by managing a just transition towards a durable recovery and a net zero emissions economy. This should include government working closely with businesses, local bodies and educational institutions to help direct low carbon investment and skills funding towards areas of the country worst affected by the pandemic and likely to be impacted by the net zero transition.  Adequate funding and training for Local Authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships will be essential to ensure that the recovery drives local regeneration and maximises the opportunities afforded by the low carbon transition for businesses and SMEs right across the country. In addition, a new national skills strategy will be essential to help embed sustainability training at all levels of the educational system and through lifelong learning [5].

6. Putting in place a diplomatic and trade policy that is fully consistent with the UK’s net zero and Environment Bill targets. As argued in a recent Aldersgate Group briefing [6], it is essential that future trade agreements promote high standards on the environment and climate change, reduce barriers for trade in low carbon goods and services and protect the UK’s future right to regulate on environmental and climate change policy issues. 

Through its network of climate diplomats and attachés and its position as host of the G7 and COP26 summits in 2021, the UK has a unique opportunity to engineer a global increase in climate ambition. Negotiation priorities for COP26 should include putting forward a strong business case for major emitters to align their economic recovery plans with the need to achieve net zero emissions, agreeing on a mechanism to support developing countries already vulnerable to adverse climate impacts, and finalising a rule book for the market and cooperation mechanisms under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.

Nick Molho, Executive Director, Aldersgate Group said: ‘Securing a durable recovery from COVID-19 and putting the UK economy on track for net zero emissions are mutually reinforcing goals that are strongly supported by businesses and the public. Actions in this parliamentary term will be essential to achieve both these objectives. The Government has stated its ambition to deliver a green recovery and has made positive stimulus announcements in recent months. But to put the UK economy on a credible pathway for net zero and allow private investment to do most of the heavy lifting, the government must now put together a comprehensive plan to close the existing policy gap.”’

Sue Riddlestone OBE, CEO and co-founder, Bioregional, said: “Our homes are directly responsible for 20% of UK carbon emissions. The report mentions the new Future Homes Standard which, with some adjustments, could see all new homes designed to be net zero carbon in energy use from 2025, in line with the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change. For our existing homes, we need the government to share its plans and policies to implement the target in the Clean Growth Strategy that all homes reach at least EPC band C of energy efficiency by 2035. We are all in this together and there are a lot of experienced professionals on hand, only too willing to help to co-create policies and programmes that will get the job done.”

Duncan Price, Partner at BuroHappold, said: “We cannot tackle climate change without tackling cities. We need a radical approach to new build development, energy efficiency of existing buildings and future infrastructure delivery. We need clear policy signals, decarbonisation pathways, and business strategies across each of these areas as part of a green recovery.”

Meryam Omi, Head of Sustainability and Responsible Investment Strategy, Legal & General Investment Management, said: “The success of the UK’s ambitious net zero target depends on the government setting out a clear pathway for companies to build aligned strategies and for investors to direct capital into a ‘green’ recovery at scale. From domestic housing to international trade, this report offers timely recommendations to create a vibrant net zero economy, which we believe is beneficial for the UK and UK investors.”

Chris Smith, Managing Director of Michelin Tyre PLC, said: “This report by the Aldersgate Group clearly highlights the levers which will have to be activated in order to face up to the climate emergency. Smart regulation, accelerated innovation and fair environmental trade will be absolutely key. At Michelin, we are confident that COP26 will pave the way towards the necessary decarbonisation of our economies but this will require close collaboration between the public and private sectors as demonstrated in the report”.

Keith Anderson, CEO, ScottishPower said: “If we’re to have any chance of meeting net zero targets, we need to get to work on making it happen – building low carbon homes, getting people into electric cars and constructing new wind farms. As we set out in our 10 practical steps to unlocking net zero, we can do all these things, and do them quickly, with just small changes to existing government rules and regulations. Starting now, we can create jobs and stimulate investment while delivering the long-term environmental benefits and the zero-carbon future we’re all working towards – it’s a no-brainer. Taking action and doing what is needed from both an economic and an environmental perspective is a win-win, meaning we can all achieve a better future, quicker.”

Adam Read, Director of External Affairs at SUEZ, said: “This report is a timely addition to this critical debate. Carbon Net Zero is perhaps the most important target society has ever had to meet, and all sectors must play their part, under a clear framework of priority activity led by Government. The waste sector has achieved a great deal in the last 2 decades in terms of emissions reductions, as a direct result of moving materials away from landfill and its associated methane emissions. But for our sector to make future large scale improvements, we will need to drive a reduction in consumption, improve the performance of current technology solutions and support large scale trials of critical technologies and new business models to cut emissions in hard to treat sectors such as heavy industry, agriculture and long-distance transport.”

Adam Read added: “All sectors must step up to the challenge and look both internally at what they can achieve, and cross-sectorally at what sectors can do together or learn from one another. SUEZ are continuing to embrace this challenge and support our customers and supply chains in active discussions around changes in services and solutions, and welcome greater clarity from Government on short and medium term priority activities and future funding to support innovation and collaboration.”

Anna Turrell, Head of Environment at Tesco, said: “Food is at the heart of our business and we have a role to play in addressing the key sustainability challenges caused by food production and consumption - delivering affordable, healthy, sustainable food for all.  As the UK’s largest retailer, Tesco has a sizeable operational and supply chain footprint. Tesco was the first company to set an approved carbon reduction target aligned to 1.5 degrees in 2017. Since then, we have transitioned our UK, Ireland, Slovakian and Hungarian operations to 100% renewable electricity, and are working to procure an increasing proportion of our demand from onsite and offsite Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) that generate additional renewable energy in the UK grid.”

Anna Turrell added: “Electricity in our own operations is only part of the footprint. We would like to make further, faster progress and to do that we need an enabling policy and regulatory environment that supports and improves infrastructure for decarbonised logistics and energy systems, as well as supporting our agricultural supply chains to decarbonise whilst restoring nature. Having a comprehensive, joined-up national net zero delivery plan is therefore vital to both the success of the UK’s net zero ambitions and ours as a company.”  

Richard Aylard, Sustainability Director at Thames Water, said: “We’ve reduced emissions by more than a third since 1990, despite the substantial growth in our business over that period, but hitting our ambitious target of net zero carbon emissions by 2030 will require more radical action.

Poo power, together with wind and solar, currently generates around a quarter of our electricity needs, saving our customers around £30m in energy costs each year. Future ambitions include turning fatbergs into biodiesel, creating more wetlands, transferring heat from sewers to warm homes and businesses, and installing power points for low carbon vehicles.

To succeed, these actions will need to be supported by improvements in policy and regulation like those proposed by the Aldersgate Group. Changes including the smarter approach to waste treatment, and access to low-cost renewable power, will help companies like us to achieve further major reductions in emissions.”

Maria Connolly, Head of Clean Energy & Real Estate at law firm TLT, said: “Aldersgate Group’s report calls on the UK government to take bold and decisive action to deliver net zero by 2050. The recommendations in the report are a reflection of the issues that have been raised by the sector as being key to a green recovery over recent months. We’re already seeing positive progress being made in many of these areas from a focus on green investment to the development of nascent technologies such as hydrogen, but further support from the government will be instrumental to drive the pace of change.”


[1] The report will be debated at an event from 12.00pm to 1.30pm on Monday 5 October. The event will include a keynote speech from Darren Jones MP, Chair of the BEIS Select Committee, and panellists from multiple business sectors. You can register here.

[2] On 1 June 2020, around 200 business leaders – including several Aldersgate Group business members - wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and called for an economic recovery plan aligned with the UK’s net zero target and other environmental goals. More information is available here.

[3] The final report of the UK Citizens’ Climate Assembly published on 10 September 2020 found that 79% of assembly members ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that the UK’s approach to economic recovery should be aligned with the net zero target. The report is available here:

[4] The UK government will shortly launch an innovation programme to develop and demonstrate the potential of direct air capture and other greenhouse gas removal technologies. Projects are expected to start in April 2021:

[5] On 15 October, the Aldersgate Group will launch a new policy briefing on how to design an effective low carbon skills strategy in the UK.

[6] The Aldersgate Group published a policy briefing on 24 June, making the case for aligning the UK’s trade policy with its climate and environmental goals and setting out key measures to be taken in the Trade Bill and future trade agreements. The briefing is available here.