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Reactive to Spending Review 2020

25th November 2020

Reacting to the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Spending Review, Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group, said: “The challenging economic context presented by the Chancellor of the Exchequer today underscores the importance of aligning the UK’s spending commitments with the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan and the UK’s climate and environmental goals. The Spending Review’s commitment that the UK’s economic recovery ‘must be green’ sends a positive signal. We welcome the creation of a national infrastructure bank and would urge that the net zero target, the Environment Bill targets and the levelling up agenda are all central to its mandate. To be effective and crowd in private investment at scale, such a bank will also need to be sufficiently well capitalised, with recent analysis commissioned by the Aldersgate Group recommending £20bn paid in capital over 4 years.” [1]

Nick Molho added: “A key task for the Government in the near future will be to introduce new regulations and market mechanisms to drive private low carbon investment in critical areas such as buildings, heavy industry and nature restoration. This will be essential to deliver the Chancellor’s objective of accelerating private investment in infrastructure and putting the UK on a credible pathway for net zero emissions and delivering the goals set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan.” [2]

—ENDS—

[1] On 15 July, the Aldersgate Group published Rebuilding to Last, a report from James Rydge an Dimitri Zenghelis at the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics, looking at the key measures needed to put the UK on path to a sustainable, durable and socially inclusive economic recovery. The report called for the creation of a national investment bank with a paid-up capital of £20bn, with £5bn a year paid for 4 years. The report is accessible here:  https://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/latest#rebuilding-to-last-uk-must-not-go-back-to-the-old-normal

[2] On 5 October, the Aldersgate Group launched a major report, Building a net zero emissions economy, looking at the key policy measures needed in this parliamentary term to put the UK economic on a credible pathway to net zero emissions: https://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/latest#businesses-call-for-urgent-policy-decisions-to-put-uk-economy-on-track-for-net-zero-emissions

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Ten Point Plan: a good starting point for a green recovery but a more systemic approach is needed

17th November 2020

Reacting to the Government’s Ten Point Plan, Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group, said: "The Prime Minister is absolutely right that aligning the UK’s economic recovery strategy can create a significant number of jobs and bring much needed investment to parts of the UK in urgent need of economic opportunities. The Ten Point Plan commitment to phase out the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 will send a decisive market signal and we welcome the commitments to extend the Green Homes Grant by a year and the increased ambition around hydrogen and carbon capture."

Nick Molho added: "However, to put the UK economy on a credible pathway for net zero emissions, the Prime Minister must embed the net zero target across all government departments and address the lack of long-term policy commitments that is still holding back progress in some parts of the economy [1]. For example, the Ten Point Plan doesn't address the lack of regulatory drivers in buildings that is currently hampering private investment in energy efficiency and low carbon heat, and it does not recognise the urgent need to set up a well-capitalised national investment bank to grow investment in complex low carbon technologies. For the UK’s domestic policy commitments to be effective, the Government must also not lose sight of the fact that any future trade agreements must be fully supportive and consistent with the net zero target. [2]”

Reacting to the announcement on industrial decarbonisation measures, Nick Molho added: "It’s good to see the Government growing its ambitions for low carbon industrial clusters and hydrogen production. However, with France and Germany each committing €7bn as part of their green hydrogen strategies, much work remains to be done to plug the innovation funding gap and develop the market mechanisms that will support the deployment low carbon industrial technologies at scale."

—ENDS—

[1] On 5 October, the Aldersgate Group launched a major report, Building a net zero emissions economy, looking at the key policy measures needed in this parliamentary term to put the UK economic on a credible pathway to net zero emissions: https://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/latest#businesses-call-for-urgent-policy-decisions-to-put-uk-economy-on-track-for-net-zero-emissions

[2] The Aldersgate Group recently published a policy briefing setting out the business case for aligning the UK’s trade policy with its climate and environmental goals: https://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/latest/page:2#uk-trade-policy-must-be-aligned-with-environmental-and-climate-goals

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Focus on nature restoration is welcome but needs to be amplified through Environment Bill

14th November 2020

Reacting to the Government’s announcement on the Green Recovery Challenge Fund and the creation of new Landscape Recovery Projects, Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group, said: “The Government’s growing focus on nature restoration as part of its economic recovery plan is encouraging and makes good sense from an environmental and economic perspective. Projects such as woodland creation and the restoration of wetlands and peatlands are proven to be very effective at generating jobs [1] as well as having a key role to play in reversing the decline of the natural environment and helping the UK better adapt to the impacts from climate change.”

Nick Molho added: “Going forward, the challenge will be to take a strategic approach to nature restoration to deliver improvements at scale. In addition to the Environmental Land Management Scheme being introduced as part of the Agricultural Bill, this will require the Government to commit to a set of ambitious nature improvement targets and associated policy measures under the Environment Bill. [2]”

—ENDS—

[1] See Rebuilding to Last, the comprehensive economic analysis on COVID-19 recovery commissioned by the Aldersgate Group from the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics: https://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/latest#rebuilding-to-last-uk-must-not-go-back-to-the-old-normal

[2] See the Aldersgate Group’s latest briefing on how ambitious targets under the Environment Bill should be designed: https://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/asset/1704

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Greater due diligence in supply chains welcome

11th November 2020

Reacting to the Government’s announcement on requiring greater due diligence from businesses to protect rainforests, Signe Norberg, Public Affairs Manager at the Aldersgate Group, said: “We welcome Lord Goldsmith’s announcement today on tackling illegal deforestation and introducing an amendment to the Environment Bill which will enhance due diligence requirements for UK businesses. Enhancing resilience, traceability and sustainability across business supply chains is essential to protect the world’s rainforests and this announcement is an important legislative step in that direction.”

Signe Norberg added: “Today’s measures can help pave the way for further protections for other vital ecological assets. Given the scale of global demand for commodities coming from rainforests, the UK must now encourage other major economies to introduce similar legal requirements and work with nations hosting vital rainforests to strengthen domestic forest protection laws.”

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Focus on low carbon and environment crucial for recovery

10th November 2020

Responding to the Labour Party’s green economic recovery consultation report today, Signe Norberg, Public Affairs Manager at the Aldersgate Group, said: “Focusing on low carbon technologies, skills and services will be crucial as the UK recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. This will create new jobs, spread opportunities across the country and support our climate and environmental goals. As we have argued in recent reports [1], these opportunities need to be supported by a programme of near-term public investment, the creation of new institutions, such as a National Investment Bank, a low carbon skills strategy and comprehensive policies which can drive long-term private sector investment. The consultation report highlighted by the Labour Party today illustrates the opportunities that lie ahead and the range of actions that are required to achieve them.”  

—ENDS—

[1] Dimitri Zenghelis and James Rydge (2020) Rebuilding to Last: How to Design an inclusive, resilient and sustainable growth strategy after COVID-19. This report was commissioned by the Aldersgate Group: https://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/latest#rebuilding-to-last-uk-must-not-go-back-to-the-old-normal

Aldersgate Group (2020) Seize the Moment: https://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/latest/page:2#low-carbon-projects-are-a-key-solution-to-jobs-inequality-and-resilience-concerns

Aldersgate Group (2020) Building a net zero emissions economy https://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/latest#businesses-call-for-urgent-policy-decisions-to-put-uk-economy-on-track-for-net-zero-emissions

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Mandatory climate risk disclosure key to improving decision making

9th November 2020

Reacting to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's announcement today on the UK's roadmap to mandatory climate-related disclosures, Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group, said: "The Government’s intention to legislate for companies to disclose their exposure to climate risks in line with the TCFD recommendations [1] is an essential step in improving the quality, comparability and transparency of climate-related disclosures across the economy and one which the Aldersgate Group has long called for [2]. To ensure that this new reporting regime results in better decision making, it will be important that companies be required to report how they are managing the climate risks they have identified."

Nick Molho added: "Government policy can support businesses in adapting to TCFD aligned reporting by providing supportive guidance, setting up a corporate reporting lab to test different reporting approaches, and looking at how existing disclosure requirements can best be integrated within the TCFD reporting framework to avoid duplication of effort."

Nick Molho added: "Today’s announcement of the UK’s first Sovereign Green Bond in 2021 is a welcome step in financing projects which deliver on the UK’s climate and environmental ambitions. There is still further work to do in delivering the Government’s objective of greening the financial system and growing the flows of green finance. Developing green finance standards, setting up a National Investment Bank and reviewing prudential requirements to make it easier to invest in low carbon infrastructure are all essential measures that will help unlock the private finance needed to deliver the UK’s net zero emissions target and other environmental goals." [3]

—ENDS—

[1] The Financial Stability Board set up the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFDs), which published key recommendations to improve and increase the disclosure of climate-related financial information: https://www.fsb-tcfd.org/

[2] In October 2019, the Aldersgate Group published a policy briefing calling for TCFD aligned reporting to be made mandatory and setting out a range of recommendations to implement such a requirement in practice: https://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/latest/page:2#mandatory-climate-risk-disclosure-essential-to-get-to-net-zero

[3] 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 at: https://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/latest#businesses-call-for-urgent-policy-decisions-to-put-uk-economy-on-track-for-net-zero-emissions

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Parliament must seize opportunity to strengthen the Environment Bill

3rd November 2020

Reacting to the return of the Environment Bill today, Signe Norberg, Public Affairs Manager at the Aldersgate Group, said: “It is great to see the Environment Bill return to Parliament after over 200 days. Progress on the Bill must continue now at pace to ensure that we have a robust environmental governance system after the end of the transition period. While the delay caused by the pandemic has been understandable, Government must now prioritise the Bill in order to provide sufficient time for comprehensive parliamentary scrutiny and minimise the risk of any governance gaps following the end of the transition period.” 

Signe Norberg added: “The Environment Bill has the potential to be a world leading piece of environmental legislation but it needs to be strengthened in a number of areas, including the target setting process, the interim targets and the environmental improvement plans.[1] Further clarity on the creation of the Office for Environmental Protection and related interim arrangements will be crucial. This should include greater transparency on the new amendments giving the Secretary of State power to issue guidance on the watchdog’s enforcement function and moving environmental reviews from the Upper Tribunal to the High Court."

—ENDS—

The Aldersgate Group has produced a paper on the published environmental targets policy paper, which you can find here. It provides some constructive recommendations for the Government and the independent panel of experts to consider when entering the next phase of the target setting process. This builds on the second reading briefing which was produced when the Environment Bill was first introduced. 

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Business groups call for an ambitious NDC that aligns with net zero target

3rd November 2020

Several business groups - including The Aldersgate Group, the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group and the Institutional Investors’ Group on Climate Change - have written to the Prime Minister today to urge him to announce an ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) for the UK to mark the upcoming five year of the Paris Agreement and create a positive negotiation dynamic ahead of the crucial COP26 climate summit [1]. The groups argue that an ambitious NDC, which will set the UK’s emission reduction  commitments for 2030 under the Paris Agreement, should be at least in line with the UK’s existing net zero emissions reduction target and consistent with forthcoming advice from the Committee on Climate Change.

The groups recommend that the UK’s updated NDC should be:

  • Aligned with business targets: Many businesses have set their own net zero targets, including a number who have signed the Business Ambition for 1.5 pledge, and investors that are aligning their portfolios to the goals of the Paris Agreement. UK businesses and investors would value a clear signal from the UK Government that ambition for the economy aligns with their own aims.
  • Embedded in UK policy: The NDC should be supported by a comprehensive policy delivery plan to put the UK on a credible pathway to achieve its net zero emissions target, accelerate innovation, grow domestic supply chains and strengthen the UK’s export capabilities in the global low carbon economy [2].
  • Supported by solid plans and ambitions to ensure the UK is well prepared for the impacts of climate change: A more ambitious NDC and plan to achieve the UK’s net zero target should work hand in hand with efforts to ensure the UK is well prepared to adapt to the increasing impacts from climate change. As made clear by the Aldersgate Group previously, this will require careful co-ordination with upcoming targets and policy measures to be introduced in other key areas of policy such as the Environment Bill, the Agriculture Bill and the Planning White Paper.

Following the letter’s publication, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “With stronger climate commitments coming from countries with a large share of global emissions such as Japan, China and the EU, this is a critical time for the UK to set out a more ambitious NDC that is in line with its domestic net zero target and the Committee on Climate Change’s advice. Backed by a credible policy plan, this will allow the UK to create a positive negotiation dynamic and maximise its influence ahead of the COP26 climate summit, whilst giving itself the best chances of building a competitive, net zero emissions economy.”

- ENDS –

[1] A Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) is a national climate plan, which set out climate actions, policies and measures governments aim to implement in response to climate change. Each country sets out its own NDC and 2020 is the first time countries are required to submit new NDCs since the Paris Agreement was reached.

[2] On 5th October, the Aldersgate Group published Building a net zero emissions economy, which sets 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 is available here