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Theresa May appointed new Chair of the Aldersgate Group

19th July 2021

Today, the Aldersgate Group announces the appointment of the Rt Hon Theresa May MP as its new Chair, with effect from Tuesday 20 July 2021. She will take over from former Labour MP Joan Walley, who has chaired the Aldersgate Group for the last six years. Theresa May will support the Group’s ongoing work on the delivery of the UK’s net zero emissions and nature restoration targets and ensure the UK can build a globally thriving green economy in the process.

The appointment comes as the Aldersgate Group welcomes new business members from the facilities, retail, water, legal and energy sectors, and is involved in three major projects on green finance, resources and waste, and industrial decarbonisation.  

The Aldersgate Group is delighted to announce the appointment of Theresa May as its new Chair, as the organisation looks forward to a critical year for the climate, environmental and economic recovery agenda.

The appointment is a landmark moment for the Group, whose members include leading businesses, NGOs, professional institutes, and academic institutions. The former Prime Minister and MP for Maidenhead will bring immense leadership to the role and a commitment to driving action for an environmentally sustainable, net zero emissions and competitive economy.

As Prime Minister, Theresa May enacted the UK’s landmark commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050, making the UK the first major economy to enshrine this target in law. She also oversaw the publication of the Clean Growth Strategy and the decision to end unabated coal-fired electricity generation in the UK by 2025, both of which are helping accelerate emission cuts in the power sector and driving the growth of renewable generation such as wind and solar.

On the environment, her Government published the 25 Year Environment Plan, which provided an ambitious framework to protect and restore the natural world within a generation, a vision which is now in the process of being enshrined in the Environment Bill currently going through Parliament.

Theresa May will assume her role on 20 July 2021. She will be handed the baton by current chair, former Labour MP Joan Walley, who has completed a two-term period of office and been an asset for the Group since 2015.

Today’s announcement comes at a significant moment for the Aldersgate Group, with the organisation welcoming new members from the facilities management, retail, water, legal and energy sectors including Mitie, the Co-operative Group, Wessex Water, CMS and Octopus Energy. Their expertise and insight will bolster the Group’s knowledge base across a range of important sectors where the Aldersgate Group is driving policy change to support more rapid cuts in emissions and actions to restore the natural environment.  

The Aldersgate Group is as active as ever in this crucial time for the climate and environmental agenda, with ongoing work to support the delivery of the UK’s net zero and nature restoration targets and green economic recovery ambitions. The Group is working on three major projects ahead of the crucial COP26 climate summit, focused on the future of green finance [1], resources and waste [2], and accelerating the decarbonisation of heavy industry [3].

Theresa May, incoming Chair of the Aldersgate Group and MP for Maidenhead, said: “I am joining the Aldersgate Group to champion the business case for decarbonising the UK economy, improving resource efficiency, and investing in the restoration of nature because we are at a crucial crossroad for our climate and the environment. As Prime Minister, I was proud to lead the UK to be the first major economy to enshrine the net-zero emissions target into law and publish a strategy to overturn the decline in nature within a generation. It is vital we now accelerate our progress towards these ambitious targets and develop clear delivery plans.”

Joan Walley, outgoing Chair of the Aldersgate Group, said: "It’s been a privilege to lead the Aldersgate Group as Chair for the last six years. I am proud of the contribution we have made on setting the zero carbon and nature recovery agenda. I am delighted to leave a legacy that puts the organisation in a strong position, with membership at its highest since the Group was formed and exciting new reports on key policy areas on the horizon. I have no doubt that under Theresa May’s leadership, the Group will go from strength to strength and play a key role in leading the conversation on climate and the environment and driving ambitious policy in the critical years to come.”

Nick Molho, Executive Director, Aldersgate Group, said: “We are delighted to welcome Theresa May as our new Chair at this critical time for the Group and the environmental agenda. Decisions made in the next few years will determine whether the UK economy is on a credible pathway towards net zero emissions and whether the country is on track for overturning the decline in its natural environment within a generation. Mrs May’s unrivalled experience and her passion for the climate, environmental and clean growth agenda will be a huge asset to the organisation. As a Group, we would like to give our profound thanks to our outgoing Chair Joan Walley who has been an inspiring leader and a key part of the Aldersgate Group’s success over the past six years.”

Peter Simpson, Chief Executive, Anglian Water, said: “I’m delighted to welcome the appointment of the Rt Hon Theresa May MP as the Aldersgate Group’s new chair.  As long-time Aldersgate supporters, I look forward to working with her and other members to promote the strong environmental consensus there is amongst leading businesses and civil society groups.  I would also like to congratulate Joan Walley as she comes to the end of her very successful term.  The Aldersgate Group goes from strength to strength, and under Theresa’s leadership, the Aldersgate Group will be a decisive voice in shaping policy for the net zero age.”

Mark Versey, Chief Executive Officer, Aviva Investors, said: “Theresa May’s experience and longstanding commitment to the environment, including legislating the UK’s world leading net-zero target, will be invaluable and we look forward to working with her.”

Sergio Menendez, EMEAA Regional President, CEMEX, said: “CEMEX is delighted to welcome the Rt Hon Theresa May MP as the new Chair of the Aldersgate Group. In taking up this appointment, it shows to policy makers and wider society in the clearest way possible why it is vital that both government and businesses keep focused on delivering net zero emissions and other vital sustainability goals.”

Ece Ozdemiroglu, Founding Director, Eftec, said: “Theresa May’s arrival as Chair will boost the Aldersgate Group’s contribution to delivery of the legally binding net zero target and 25 Year Environment Plan, which are key parts of the legacy of her premiership. This combination of respected leadership and credible implementation across the Group’s diverse membership is needed to give confidence to investors in net zero, climate adaption and new environmental markets across all sectors of the economy.”

Michelle Scrimgeour, CEO, Legal and General Investment Management, said: “Climate change is not just an urgent issue for society, but also a significant investment opportunity. As business leaders, we can align our influence and financial might, collaborating with other companies and policy-makers, including through the Aldersgate Group, to help accelerate the net zero ambition, producing positive sustainable economic and environmental returns. This is inclusive capitalism in action.”

Duncan Clark, Head of UK Region, Ørsted, said: “The economic and job creation opportunities created by the net zero target are significant and we are working hard in the offshore wind sector to skill up and grow domestic supply chains. We would like to congratulate Theresa May on her new role and look forward to working with her and the team at Aldersgate Group to maximise the benefits of the net zero transition across the UK.”

Beccy Speight, Chief Executive, RSPB, said: “As a long-standing member of the Aldersgate group, we’re pleased to welcome Theresa May as its new Chair. Aligning economic policy with the huge steps we must all take to address the climate and nature emergency will be fundamental over the coming decade and beyond. The work of the Aldersgate Group is vital in bringing both NGO and business voices together to find solutions to the emergency facing our natural world and to make a shared case for the legal and policy frameworks needed. Its work in helping to shape and influence those policies with urgency, bringing together organisations who share this mission has never been more important and we look forward to working together to secure a healthier future for us all.”

Carl Ennis, CEO, Siemens plc, said: “I am delighted to welcome Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP as Chair of the Aldersgate Group.  An ambitious, co-ordinated and accelerated approach to the climate and environmental agenda is critical if the UK is to reach a timely, equitable and economically beneficial net zero emissions future. As an experienced and respected figure, Theresa May will be an effective ambassador for this vital work.”

John Scanlon, Chief Executive Officer for SUEZ recycling and recovery UK said: “With Glasgow hosting COP26 this autumn, all eyes are on the UK to lead the way in combatting climate change. Protecting our environment goes to the very heart of our work at SUEZ and only an ambitious environmental agenda can bring about the systemic change needed to create a resource efficient economy. Aldersgate recognised early on that environmental sustainability and economic prosperity are intrinsically linked and that for our nation to thrive we need policies that can credibly deliver on both counts. In this pivotal year for our environment and our economy, I’m delighted to welcome Theresa May as Chair of the Aldersgate Group and look forward to working with her and the Aldersgate team to tackle our environmental challenges.”

Rick Willmott, Group Chief Executive, Willmott Dixon, said: “We warmly welcome Theresa May as the new Chair of the Aldersgate Group.  At Willmott Dixon, last year we announced what we believe are the construction industry’s most ambitious sustainability targets to 2030 because we see that putting net zero and green growth at the heart of our business is core to our continued development and success.

“The work of the Aldersgate Group in shaping policies that tackle environmental challenges helps drive investment in projects, innovation, skills and supply chains. Around 350,000 new roles in construction could be created by putting the UK economy on track for net zero emissions by 2050.”

Tanya Steele, CEO, WWF-UK said: “It is great to see the appointment of Theresa May as Chair of the Aldersgate Group.  As a former Prime Minister, she will bring to the group enormous experience and a clear understanding of the scale of ambition required if both governments and businesses are to deliver the cuts in emissions needed to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

This could not be a more important year in the fight to restore the planet, our one shared home, and the UK has a central role to play as host of COP26. I look forward to continuing to work with the Aldersgate Group in the mission to build a low-carbon, nature-positive economy, the only route to long-term prosperity.”

—ENDS—

In line with the government’s Business Appointment Rules, Mrs May consulted the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments before taking up the appointment of Chair at The Aldersgate Group. This position is a voluntary role.   

[1] The Aldersgate Group recently released a report exploring the next steps for the UK’s green finance strategy. To find out more, you can access the full publication here: Financing the future: Driving investment for net zero and nature restoration. The report was launched at a webinar with Economic Secretary John Glen MP on 22 June 2021.

[2] The Aldersgate Group published its latest report, Closing the Loop: Time to Crack on with Resource Efficiency,  on 15 July 2021. The report, which was launched at a webinar with Chair of the Environmental Audit Select Committee Philip Dunne MP, assesses recent progress in England’s resources and waste policy and puts forward a number of recommendations to drive greater resource efficiency across the economy.

[3] The Aldersgate Group will publish two major reports in early September, setting out key policy recommendations to accelerate the decarbonisation of heavy industry, lower industrial electricity prices and support industrial competitiveness in the process. These have been commissioned from UCL and Frontier Economics.

Theresa May

England’s resource efficiency agenda must be accelerated with urgency

15th July 2021

In a new report out today [1], the Aldersgate Group calls on the Government to accelerate progress on resource efficiency to secure major benefits in terms of emission savings, reduced environmental impacts, job creation and economic resilience.  Although government strategies have built a positive overarching vision for resource efficiency, policy commitments in this area have lacked ambition, pace and detail, and appear to have received limited buy-in from other government departments beyond the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The Group argues that government must improve collaboration across departments to achieve further progress, accelerate the implementation of policies that improve how products, industrial materials and infrastructure are designed, and introduce measures to reduce consumption in the first place, such as through citizen engagement campaigns and incentivising service-based business models.


Driving greater resource efficiency across the economy would deliver significant economic and environmental benefits, with research suggesting that such action would deliver 80% of the additional emission savings required to deliver the UK’s Fifth Carbon Budget with a net gain in Gross Value Added of £9.1bn by 2030. [3]

However, the Aldersgate Group’s extensive engagement with businesses, professional institutes and civil society organisations shows that England’s policy on resources and waste has to date been too piecemeal and subject to repeated delays. Whilst the UK Government outlined a positive policy ambition in its 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy for England, insufficient progress has been delivered since, with the recent Waste Prevention Programme restating many pre-existing policy commitments.

In its new report out today, Closing the Loop: Time to crack on with resource efficiency, the Aldersgate Group calls for much greater urgency, stronger cross-government collaboration, and a more systemic approach to improve resource efficiency across the economy. The report sets out priority areas where the development and implementation of existing policy proposals needs to be accelerated, highlights policy gaps where new proposals are needed, and makes specific policy recommendations to improve resource efficiency across the construction and automotive industries, two resource intensive sectors.  

Key recommendations for the future of England’s resources and waste policy include:

  • Resource efficiency should become a cross-government priority beyond efforts led by Defra, with all departments such as HM Treasury, BEIS, DfT and MHCLG contributing to policy development and implementation in this area. This should include close collaboration with devolved administrations, with nations such as Wales having made significant progress on this agenda.
     
  • The Government should accelerate the implementation of proposals which will have the most rapid impact in improving product design. This includes accelerating the development of mandatory eco-design standards and lifecycle assessments for a growing range of products and rolling out Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Schemes beyond packaging, with a focus on ambitious fee modulation mechanisms, clear definitions and a close monitoring of performance. The design and role of Deposit Return Schemes should be clarified, with a particular focus on introducing these schemes in areas where the introduction of EPR schemes and eco-design criteria may not deliver sufficient progress.
  • The Environment Bill – which will introduce long-term, legally binding targets on waste reduction and resource productivity - should be amended to provide for more robust interim targets that will provide businesses with greater clarity on the near-term policy actions that the Government will take to meet the long-term targets under the Bill.   
     
  • New proposals should be put forward to tackle ongoing market barriers that are slowing the take-up of more resource efficient business models. This should include developing resource efficiency criteria for the £290 billion a year spent by the UK on public procurement [4], introducing fiscal mechanisms – such as variable VAT rates and a broader tax on single-use items – to help more resource efficient products and materials compete on cost, and funding for public awareness campaigns to build consumer trust in resource efficient products and services. The use of targeted public finance – such as through the UK Infrastructure Bank – could also play a critical role in attracting private investment in much needed infrastructure to support greater rates of recycling, repair, remanufacturing and re-use.    
     
  • A comprehensive strategy on low carbon skills will be essential to support an economy-wide drive towards greater resource efficiency. This should include embedding climate change and environmental sustainability at all stages of the national curriculum, encouraging a much higher uptake of STEM subjects, and broadening the scope of the Apprenticeship Levy Standards. To support workers in need of reskilling, the Government should continue to provide financial support for training, upskilling and retraining through the National Skills Fund and encourage Further Education Institutions to offer a broader range of flexible, short-term courses.
     
  • The Government should facilitate greater trade in circular products and materials, by featuring circular economy principles in the trade and sustainable development chapters of trade agreements. As the Aldersgate Group set out in a recent policy briefing, [5] Government must also use its trade policy to provide a level playing field to ensure that domestic businesses innovating in resource efficiency are not exposed to unfair competition from imports with lower environmental standards.

The report also calls for a range of measures to drive greater efficiency in the resource intensive sectors of construction and automotive. This includes the introduction of design regulations for buildings, streamlined lifecycle assessment methodologies for buildings and vehicles, and the introduction of mandatory product standards for construction materials and vehicle components.

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “Improving resource efficiency across the economy makes sense on all counts: it reduces demands on the environment, cuts emissions, makes our economy more resilient to supply shocks, and can grow supply chains and create jobs in areas such as recycling, repair, remanufacturing and reuse. The Government set some good ambitions in 2018 but the time has come to move to the delivery phase. What we need now need is an urgent, cross-government and systemic approach that improves product design, supports the development of new business models and engages citizens to help drive down resource consumption.”

Martin Casey, Director, Public Affairs, Europe at CEMEX said: “CEMEX welcomes this important report by the Aldersgate Group and the scope of its recommendations which can drive forward the goal of real resource efficiency across the whole economy. It’s vital that the policy framework, Government, and the regulatory bodies proactively take note and enable businesses to maximise their resource efficiency potential and deliver on the promise of a truly circular economy."

Dr Adam Read, External Affairs Director at SUEZ said: “If we can’t get BEIS, DEFRA, MHCLG and DfT to develop policies that complement one another and support societal change in a holistic way, then we may end up with any number of unintended consequences that undermine our drive towards greater resource efficiency and sustainability. This welcome report from the Aldersgate Group highlights another of SUEZ’s key concerns, namely a lack of real focus by Government on actually reducing consumption and incentivising reuse, refill and repair. The portfolio of recent policy reforms that have been consulted on all focus mainly on driving better recycling, with the DEFRA Waste Prevention Programme failing to deliver any real target for reducing consumption and highlighting the important role of the consumer in this process. The UK needs leadership around better citizen awareness campaigns, product eco-design, life-cycle thinking and closed loop materials management, and this must happen soon if we are to give ourselves a chance of decarbonising by 2050."

Libby Peake, Head of Resource Policy at Green Alliance said: “We know that the overconsumption of resources is driving both climate change and nature’s degradation and yet it is very rarely addressed by government policy. The good news, as this report outlines, is that there are many simple actions the government could – and should – be taking to improve the situation which would not only be good for the environment, but also the economy and the public. It really is time to get on with it.”

Peter Jelkeby, Country Retail Manager and Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA UK and Ireland said: “Developing a circular economy is essential for building a low-carbon business and society. At IKEA, our aim is to transform into a fully circular business. To do this, we are committed to designing all of our products using only renewable or recycled materials, and to develop circular services. As such, we fully endorse the recommendations in this timely report, and the call for Government to accelerate its progress on resource efficiency, ahead of COP26, making the UK a leader in this field. We also welcome the call for more green jobs, firmly rooted in the skills we will need to make the circular economy a reality. At IKEA, our Recovery department employs over 350 people in the UK. Not only do they play a vital role in helping us strive for zero waste, but they are also a living example of how we are creating the retail workforce of the future; supporting a circular, green economy and our collective journey to climate positivity.”

Anna Turrell, Head of Environment at Tesco said: “If we are to meet our shared ambition to deliver a net zero economy, we must rethink how we manage the resources available to us more efficiently. We support the Aldersgate Group’s recommendations that the solution is to create a closed loop circular economy and that this is going to require substantive actions from business, industry and government to achieve. We are playing our part and working with partners to reach this ambition by, for example on packaging, removing and reducing single use packaging wherever possible, introducing reusable alternatives, and working to ensure everything that’s left is recyclable as a part of a closed loop.”

David Symons, UK Director of Sustainability at WSP said: “Using materials more efficiently is an easy way to grow Britain’s productivity, increase resilience and help deliver a net zero economy. Government has a great opportunity to up the pace on waste management - growing the economy and delivering on one of the public’s highest priority environmental issues.”

Julia Barrett, Chief Sustainability Officer at Willmott Dixon said: “The built environment consumes almost half of the materials extracted globally every year, so as this report sets out, we need a systematic rethink of how we design, construct and use buildings. At Willmott Dixon we have set a target of zero avoidable construction waste by 2030 and welcome the recommendations put forward today: for Government to urgently accelerate the transition to the circular economy by using fiscal mechanisms to change behaviour, for government procurement to demonstrate leadership, and for the creation of cross departmental policy and standards to drive resource efficiency.”

-ENDS-

[1] The Aldersgate Group’s new report Closing the Loop: time to crack on with resource efficiency is available here.

[2] The report will be discussed at a public webinar from 9.30am to 11.00am on Thursday 15th July, with panellists from multiple business sectors and civil society. You can register here.

[3] Sixth carbon budget data from Green Alliance (2018) Less in, More Out available here, and GVA data from Suez/Eunomia (2016) A resourceful future: expanding the UK economy available here.

[4] Cabinet Office (2020) Transforming public procurement available here.

[5] In June 2020, the Aldersgate Group published a report setting out why the UK’s trade policy should be aligned with its climate and environmental goals. This report is available here.


Response to the Green Jobs Taskforce Report

14th July 2021

Reacting to the launch of the Green Jobs Taskforce's Report, Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group and member of the Green Jobs Taskforce, said: “The Green Jobs Taskforce has been a great example of industry, trade unions, the skills sector, civil society and government working together to make the net zero transition a success for the UK economy, its workforce and citizens. There is strong agreement across all sectors that we can achieve the UK’s climate and environmental targets in a way that grows new low carbon supply chains across all parts of the economy and creates a significant number of high quality jobs across the country. Achieving this ambition is ultimately down to the actions that government, industry and the skills sector will take in the coming years.
 
To deliver this objective, the UK needs to have a detailed policy plan for its net zero target, mainstream the teaching of climate change and green skills across all stages of the education system, and provide those already in the workforce with the financial and flexible learning support they need to have access to reskilling.”

GJT image

Transport Decarbonisation Plan is an important step forward, but key decisions need to follow swiftly

14th July 2021

Reacting to the publication of Government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan, Ana Musat, Head of Policy at the Aldersgate Group, said:  “The Transport Decarbonisation Plan is an important milestone, setting out a comprehensive blueprint to cut emissions across all modes of transport and boost active travel. It is particularly welcome to see the proposal to phase out petrol and diesel trucks by 2040, which will play a key role in helping grow supply chains for electric vehicles and secure a level playing field for those already investing in low carbon mobility solutions.
 
Government’s commitment to electrify its fleet by 2027, bolstered by similar commitments from other businesses across the UK, is an important way to grow demand and offer confidence to manufacturers. The ‘ZEV mandate’ is another promising policy lever, which has successfully grown the market in California and China, and consulting with industry on how best to implement that in the UK is a promising move.” [1]

Ana Musat added: “We now need to ensure that the transition to electric mobility is just and benefits everyone. To achieve this, good charging infrastructure needs to be in place across the country, so that those without off-street parking and fleet drivers are able to conveniently charge their vehicles. This is why the delivery of chargepoints must become a national infrastructure priority, led by central government, with increased levels of coordination between local authorities. Currently, investors in public charging infrastructure in particular, have to understand the different costs and planning requirements from different local authorities, which can act as a barrier to infrastructure development.
 
In addition, measures to ensure electric vehicles and trucks are financially accessible will be essential. The Plug-in Grant is key in reducing upfront cost, but other measures, including zero-interest loans for EVs like those available in Scotland, and policies to grow the market and boost consumer confidence in a second-hand EVs, will need to be developed.” [2]
 
—ENDS—

[1] In October 2020, the Aldersgate Group published a report outlining the policy next steps for decarbonising a range of sectors, including transport. The report Building a net zero emissions economy: Next steps for government and business is available here.
 
[2] Aldersgate Group is part of the Coalition for the Decarbonisation of Road Transport (CDRT), convened by the Green Finance Institute. The Coalition will publish a report by the end of this month with recommendations and demonstrator projects to unlock private finance into three key areas of road transport decarbonisation: charging infrastructure, consumer finance and battery production.

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