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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.”

—ENDS—

[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.

[4] https://www.teachthefuture.uk/post/climate-emergencyeducation-bill  

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


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]   


—ENDS—
 
[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

offshore-wind

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.”

—ENDS—

[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: https://www.climateassembly.uk/report/

[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: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/direct-air-capture-and-other-greenhouse-gas-removal-technologies-competition

[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.


Low carbon skills crucial to levelling up the UK

29th September 2020

Reacting to the Prime Minister’s announcement of reforming post-18 education and training, Ana Musat, Policy Manager at the Aldersgate Group, said: “We warmly welcome today’s announcement which sets out plans to support lifelong learning and retraining for adults in the UK. Investing in skills is crucial to the economic recovery and ensuring that the opportunities from a transition to a net zero emissions economy are spread across the country. The new Lifetime Skill Guarantee can contribute to tackling rising social inequalities, and increased funding for apprenticeships can provide SMEs with much needed support and flexibility to attract the required talent. The Government should also focus on boosting the supply of the skills that are required to meet the UK's net zero target and closing existing skills gaps in key sectors including construction and heavy industry. This will require a joined-up approach between private sector, national government and education institutions to provide the UK workforce with the skills of the future.” 


Ana Musat added: “As we argue in our upcoming skills briefing [1], a comprehensive focus on developing the right skills across key economic sectors will be essential. Government, business and the education system need to collaborate to ensure an adequate skills provision, and today’s measures must be accompanied by a net zero delivery plan that sends clear market signals to businesses and grows demand for the skills of the future [2]. Engaging with Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, SMEs and local education providers can ensure that investment in skills is matched to local specialism, putting all areas of the UK in a strong position to seize these opportunities.”

—ENDS—
 
[1] The Aldersgate Group will launch a new policy briefing on skills in the low carbon economy on 15 October, Upskilling the UK workforce for the 21st century.
 

[2] The Aldersgate Group will launch a new policy report on Building a Net Zero Emissions Economy: next steps for government and business. 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, Chair of the BEIS Select Committee, and panellists from multiple business sectors. You can register here.

MHIvestas

UK must use its domestic and trade policy to lead by example on climate change

24th September 2020

Reacting to the Prime Minister’s remarks later today at a United Nations Climate Action Roundtable, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “It is positive to see the Prime Minister use this platform to call for rapid and transformational commitments on nationally determined contributions and climate finance, progress against of which will be vital to the success of COP26 in Glasgow.

But to be impactful on the global stage, the UK must demonstrate in the coming months that it is making genuine progress against its own net zero target by introducing further policies in areas such as carbon pricing, building decarbonisation and the rapid phase out of petrol and diesel vehicle sales [1]. Negotiating trade agreements that are consistent with and supportive of the UK’s climate and environmental goals will also be essential to the UK’s credibility on global climate policy [2].”

—ENDS—

[1] The Aldersgate Group will publish a new report on 5th October, Building a Net Zero Emissions Economy: next steps for government and business, which will set out detailed policy recommendations for all key economic sectors in this parliamentary term to put the UK on a credible pathway for its net zero emissions target.

[2] 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 at: https://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/latest#uk-trade-policy-must-be-aligned-with-environmental-and-climate-goals

Boris in NY

Clean growth key to deliver new viable jobs

24th September 2020

Reacting to the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s economic update, Signe Norberg, Public Affairs Manager at Aldersgate Group, said: “We welcome the new measures announced today by the Chancellor to safeguard jobs and businesses over the winter months. To deliver the “new opportunities” and “viable jobs” the Chancellor wants to see created across the economy, the Government must align its upcoming stimulus measures and policy interventions to support growing investment in low carbon solutions and infrastructure. Areas such as renewable energy, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, industrial decarbonisation and nature restoration deliver high economic growth multipliers in the short and long term. [1] This can help put UK businesses in a competitive position in the growing global market for low carbon goods, which is expected to be worth more than £1 trillion a year by 2030. [2]”
 
Signe Norberg added: “It is also vital that the Government looks to introduce further support and training to equip the current and future workforce with the skills that are required for this transition. As set out in our forthcoming report on skills [3], a national ‘low carbon skills and levelling up strategy’ is urgently needed. Sustainability urgently needs to be embedded across the educational curriculum, alongside reforms to apprenticeship standards and T-levels. Together, this will support the Government’s vision for “building back better” and ensure the UK can capitalise on the markets of the future.”

—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 and is available here
 
[2] CCC (2017) UK business opportunities of moving to a low carbon economy
 
[3] The Aldersgate Group will be releasing a briefing on skills in mid-October, which will set out what a credible UK wide skills strategy should look like and where businesses and educational institutions most need support from the policy and regulatory framework.

Summer statement Rishi Sunak

We're recruiting! Senior Strategic Communications Officer

21st September 2020

We are looking for a highly motivated Senior Strategic Communications Officer. The successful candidate will join a small Secretariat (of seven) to manage all strategic communications, media outreach and events of the Group.

This is an exciting time for the Aldersgate Group. The Group has been heavily involved in the setting of the UK’s net zero target, the development of the first Environment Bill in over 20 years and the government’s flagship strategies on clean growth, green finance and resource efficiency. We also continued to build on our track record of influencing EU policy such as through the development of the Circular Economy Package. Currently, the Group is undertaking a major programme of work to ensure that the UK government’s economic recovery package and trade policy are in line with the UK’s climate and environmental targets. The Group is also engaging with the EU Commission to help shape the implementation of the Green Deal and the EU’s recovery strategy. 

Please email your CV (max two sides) and covering letter (max one side) to Signe Norberg (signe.norberg@aldersgategroup.org.uk). The closing date for the receipt of applications is 9am on 14 October. Applications received after this time will not be considered. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide individual feedback on applications. Successful applicants will be invited to interview on week commencing 19 October 2020.


UK Citizens And Businesses Both Ready To Crack On With Achieving Net Zero Emissions

10th September 2020

Reacting to the launch of Climate Assembly UK’s report, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “Today’s report, which follows growing business calls for an environmentally sustainable recovery [1], shows that there is extensive public support for cracking on with efforts to achieve net zero emissions and for aligning the UK’s economic recovery strategy with its net zero target. Despite the hardship brought about by the COVID-19 crisis, the Government benefits from a unique context whereby both the public and the business community desire clear leadership and policy interventions to put the UK on a credible pathway to net zero emissions.”
 
Nick Molho added: “The Government should in particular take note of the specific recommendations made by members of the Climate Assembly with respect to road transport, buildings, power and product standards, which are all areas where the UK needs to achieve substantial emission cuts in the near future. Through a combination of clear regulations (such as energy and resource efficiency standards), greater devolution of political and financial autonomy to local bodies, and support measures for the most vulnerable in society, government action could play a significant role in putting the UK on a credible path towards a just and timely transition to net zero emissions.”  
 
The Aldersgate Group will shortly publish a report, that sets out businesses’ key policy priorities for this parliamentary term to put the UK on track for net zero emissions [2].

—ENDS—

[1] 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
 
[2] The Aldersgate Group will launch a new report on 5th October, Building a net zero emissions economy: Next steps for government and business, looking at key policy interventions required in key economic sectors during this parliamentary term to put the UK economy on track for net zero emissions by 2050.

onshore-wind

Ambitious environmental targets key to drive long term investment

19th August 2020

Reacting to the publication of the Government’s environmental targets policy paper, Signe Norberg, Public Affairs Manager at Aldersgate Group, said: “Today’s publication of the environmental targets policy paper represents a significant opportunity for the UK to set new, ambitious and legally binding targets. These targets need to set a clear expectation for future policies and result in coherent and holistic improvements to the natural environment. If designed correctly, these targets will provide much needed long-term policy direction to businesses, shape environmental policies in the decades to come, and drive private sector investment in the natural environment. This is the beginning of that process, and we look forward to working with the Government in developing these targets further.”
 
Signe Norberg added: “Looking ahead, it is crucial that the targets are accompanied by the passage of an ambitious Environment Bill, including a clear process for setting robust interim targets, and accelerated work to put in place a functioning and well-resourced Office for Environmental Protection by the start of 2021. As the Government looks to ‘build back greener’, it is essential that the new target framework is sufficiently clear and ambitious to drive policy making for many years to come and result in much higher levels of investment in the natural environmental and resource efficiency.”

Natcap

Today's R&D funding announced by the Prime Minister rightly targeted at hard to treat sectors

22nd July 2020

Reacting to the Prime Minister’s funding announcement of £350 million to cut emissions in heavy industry, construction and transport and fuel green economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, Ana Musat, Policy Manager at the Aldersgate Group, said: “Today’s R&D funding announcements are rightly targeted at sectors where making progress to cut emissions is both difficult but also essential if the UK is to have an economic recovery with an ambitious climate programme at its core. Investment in decarbonising transport, heavy industry and construction is not only essential for reaching the UK’s net zero target, it will also be key in creating jobs and increasing the competitiveness of industries that tend to be regionally spread out and are important to the UK’s long-term levelling up agenda.”
 
We particularly welcome the announcement related to cutting emissions in the aviation sector, where the pathway for getting to net zero is less clear. Urgently starting trials for key technologies like hydrogen, electrification or sustainable fuels is essential to provide government and businesses more clarity on potential pathways to cut emissions and the technologies and business models that future policies will need to support.”
 
Ana Musat added: “Beyond R&D funding, decarbonising hard to treat sectors like heavy industry or aviation will need to be achieved by and large through private investment, which itself will require clear policy signals before it is committed. An increasing carbon price trajectory from 2020 onwards is essential to incentivise low carbon innovation and measures like product standards could play a key role in driving down embedded carbon emissions in industrial goods as steel and cement and growing the market for ultra-low carbon industrial goods.”

CEMEX

Ambitious Environment and Agriculture Bills key to “putting nature at heart of recovery”

20th July 2020

The Aldersgate Group welcomed the commitment by Environment Secretary George Eustice today to put nature at the heart of the recovery but said that including nature restoration projects in stimulus investments and making rapid progress on ambitious Environment and Agriculture Bills was essential to put this commitment into practice.

Reacting to the Environment Secretary’s speech today, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “A healthy natural environment is essential to the wellbeing of the economy and society.It is heartening to hear the Environment Secretary’s commitments to “redouble efforts” to improve the state of the environment and ensure that decisions relating to or impacting on the environment must be guided by sound scientific evidence.

Putting nature at the heart of the recovery requires the government to take a three-pronged approach. First, any changes to environmental impact assessments must result in a planning system that is predictable, science-based and focused on delivering environmental improvements. Second, nature restoration projects such as wetland or peatland restoration projects must be included in future public stimulus investments. Third, rapid progress will need to be made in the Autumn to finalise the Environmental and Agriculture Bills and develop a system of ambitious targets, all of which are essential to drive long-term private investment towards environmental improvement projects.”

Natcap

Rebuilding to last: UK must not go back to the old normal

15th July 2020

Today, the Aldersgate Group launches a new report, Rebuilding to Last [1], commissioned to James Rydge and Dimitri Zenghelis at the Grantham Research Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science. This report provides one of the most in-depth economic analyses to date on the current economic situation facing the UK and the investment and policy decisions the government needs to take in the run up to the Autumn Budget if it is to deliver an inclusive, resilient and sustainable recovery after COVID-19.

The report, which comes days after the initial stimulus measures outlined by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Summer Economic Update, sets out compelling economic evidence showing that a durable economic recovery needs to be closely aligned with the UK’s climate, environmental and clean growth ambitions. Building on last week’s public stimulus announcements, the authors argue that key institutional changes and major policy commitments will be needed to deliver a transformative and long-term recovery and urge the government to consider these carefully in the run up to the Autumn Budget.    

Reacting to the publication of the report, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “The UK did not seize the opportunity to transform its economy for the better when it responded to the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. Twelve years on, there is mounting economic evidence that a recovery plan based on investment in low carbon infrastructure and industries is one of the most effective ways of creating jobs in the near term and driving greater productivity, innovation and resilience in the long-term. The Government has rightly committed some of its early stimulus spending in areas such as energy efficiency but it must now move to make key policy commitments in areas such as carbon pricing, clean transport, low carbon heating and industrial decarbonisation if it is to deliver lasting and positive change.”

The report argues that stimulating greater investment in low carbon infrastructure, goods and services delivers higher short run economic growth multipliers compared to alternative stimulus investments. The government must avoid returning the UK economy to the short-sighted and unproductive ‘cut public spending’ policies of the past that led to more inequality, historically low productivity growth, and failed to support the UK’s climate targets, with high levels of public sector debt to GDP remaining a decade on. There can be no going back to the old normal.

Dimitri Zenghelis, Senior Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics and co-author of the report, said: “This is a rare moment in history where the UK has an opportunity to rebuild on a path of clean, resilient and inclusive growth, aligned with the UK’s long term objectives while generating skilled jobs today. The government has made a good start with the summer statement and early stimulus measures will help shore up a more resilient economy over the next two years.

But the government must now turn its rhetoric on green recovery into predictable and credible commitments to build a sustainable economy over next decade and beyond. A clear strategic plan is necessary to develop the skills for the coming decades and leverage private investment. Restoring confidence requires a clear macroeconomic vision to rebuild an economy for everyone, designed to last, creating jobs and generating wealth of real value out of the post-COVID recession.”

Dimitri Zenghelis added: “Sustainable investment creates durable competitive jobs where they are needed most, while also helping to achieve long term objectives around net zero, resilience, productivity and levelling up. It’s time to end unproductive investment in the old, dirty, divided economy and rebuild to last after COVID-19. The government’s strategy needs to expand beyond retrofitting to invest in clean innovation, the roll out of smart systems to manage energy demand, upgrade the electricity grid, replace gas, expand EV facilities, encourage pedestrianisation and cycling in cities as well as manage natural capital.”

The report puts forward a four-point plan of action for government to ensure an inclusive, resilient and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and calls for:

  • A programme of near-term public investments that will deliver net job creation across the regions, targeted in particular at energy efficiency retrofits, natural improvement projects such as tree planting and wetland restoration, while rolling out networks of the future based on fast broadband and smart connectivity, electric vehicle charging infrastructure and expanding public transport connections to low-income regions;
  • The creation of new institutions, including a new National Investment Bank with £20bn in paid capital. This Bank would work closely with the National Infrastructure Commission to establish a clean infrastructure pipeline. It would focus on crowding in private sector investment towards complex low carbon projects, such as CCS and hydrogen and attracting investment towards regions in need of economic regeneration. The response to COVID-19 has also highlighted the need to devolve power from Whitehall to the regions, where decision-makers are closer to their citizens both physically and socially, building on the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016;
  • A ‘low carbon skills and levelling up strategy’ to avoid workers falling into long-run unemployment or underemployment after the crisis, including through job guarantees, reskilling support and human capital tax credits for employers. To ensure existing and future workers are fully equipped for the low-carbon transition, measures should be taken to embed sustainability across the educational curriculum, reform apprenticeship standards and T-levels and set up sustainability metrics for tertiary level education courses;     
  • Bold and comprehensive policies to drive long-term private sector investment towards low carbon infrastructure, goods and services. This includes setting up a rising carbon price starting at £40 per tonne to align a future UK Emissions Trading Scheme with the net zero target, and rapidly introducing binding regulatory standards to drive emission cuts in areas such as buildings and vehicles. Public procurement, fiscal and monetary policies must all be made wholly consistent with climate and environmental goals, and the government should bring forward its 2027 target of 2.4% of GDP spend on R&D to support large scale demonstration projects in sectors that are hard to decarbonise such as heavy industry.

James Rydge, Policy Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute and co-author of the report, said: “It is important that institutional reforms are undertaken to expand capacity, rebuild the economy for the long term, create new opportunities for all and manage long-run risks. This requires building a credible industrial strategy to drive the investment forward, rolling out efficient networks on energy, communications and transport and ensuring that all this investment is compatible with a low-carbon economy.”

James Rydge added: “The private sector can drive much of the investment that is needed but it is seeking clarity and certainty from government to start investing again. If adopted, the recovery package this paper sets out will plug important institutional and policy gaps and provide the private sector with the clarity and confidence it needs to invest in productive assets that improve labour productivity and grow jobs now and over the long term.”

—ENDS—

[1] The Aldersgate Group launches a new report today, Rebuilding to Last: designing an inclusive and resilient growth strategy after COVID-19, commissioned to Dimitri Zenghelis and James Rydge at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science. 


Treasury takes important first steps toward a resilient recovery, must be followed up by policy commitments in Budget

8th July 2020

Reacting to the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Summer Economic Update today, Signe Norberg, Public Affairs Manager of the Aldersgate Group, said: “The Government faces a significant challenge to the get the economy and employment going again, and in the words of the Chancellor, the UK must have “a green recovery with concern for the environment at its heart”. The UK has a huge opportunity to put the economy on track for a resilient and long-term recovery by aligning it with the UK’s climate and environmental goals [1]. The £3bn investment package focused on energy efficiency spending in 2020/2021 can support rapid and regionally spread out job creation, as well as deliver important social and environmental benefits by having better homes and driving cost-effective emission cuts. These benefits could be significantly amplified if similar support continues to be provided in the years ahead.”
 
Signe Norberg added: “Building on today’s positive first steps, long-term policy commitments now need to be made by the time of the Spending Review and the Autumn Budget in order to genuinely deliver long-term and transformative change. This needs to include fiscal incentives, clear regulatory standards to mandate high levels of energy efficiency performance in buildings, a phase out of petrol and diesel vehicle sales around 2030, a UK Emissions Trading Scheme with a carbon price in line with the UK’s net zero target and product standards to drive down the embedded carbon in industrial goods. [2]”

—ENDS—

[1] On 12 June 2020, the Aldersgate Group published a policy briefing, Seize the Moment, setting out a wide range of nature restoration and low carbon projects which could deliver rapid job creation across multiple regions of the UK whilst also improving the resilience of the economy and putting the UK on track for its climate and environmental goals. The report is available here.
 
[2] The Aldersgate Group will be releasing on 15 July economic analysis commissioned from the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics. The report will highlight the key lessons learnt from recoveries from past financial crises, set out what a successful recovery plan should look like and examine what should be the role of environmental and climate issues within that.

Summer statement Rishi Sunak

Chancellor’s energy efficiency stimulus is a good start but must form part of broader low carbon package

7th July 2020

Reacting to the £3bn energy efficiency stimulus package expected to be unveiled on Wednesday by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “It is positive that the Chancellor wants to align the recovery effort with the UK’s climate, environmental and clean growth objectives. The £3bn package to support energy efficiency investments in 2020/2021 is a good start and could deliver meaningful emission cuts, better buildings and net job creation if similar support is provided in the years ahead, in line with Conservative Party’s manifesto commitments. The £1bn focused on improving energy efficiency in public buildings, such as education institutions and hospitals, is a welcome move as it is high time for the public sector to lead by example. 

But kickstarting the economy and putting the UK on a credible pathway for its net zero target also require targeted public spending in areas such as electric vehicle charging infrastructure, energy networks, broadband and nature restoration projects, so it is important that this week’s announcements be followed by further stimulus measures ahead of the Autumn Budget. [1]” 

Nick Molho added: “Beyond public investment to support shovel ready projects and low carbon innovation trials, it is critical that the government puts forward a comprehensive policy plan in the autumn to drive private sector investment towards the low carbon and environmentally resilient infrastructure needed to put the UK on track for its net zero and nature restoration targets. Clear regulatory standards and fiscal incentives in areas such as energy efficiency, clean transport and industrial decarbonisation will be vital if the private sector is to do a lot of the heavy lifting to build a competitive, jobs rich, low carbon economy. [2]”
 
—ENDS—

[1] On 12 June 2020, the Aldersgate Group published a policy briefing, Seize the Moment, setting out a wide range of nature restoration and low carbon projects which could deliver rapid job creation across multiple regions of the UK whilst also improving the resilience of the economy and putting the UK on track for its climate and environmental goals. The report is available here.

[2] The Aldersgate Group will soon be releasing a commissioned report, authored by economists at the London School of Economics, on what a successful recovery plan should look like and the role of environmental and climate considerations within that. It will set out criteria for public investment and how to encourage private sector investment in areas of public interest, such as the natural environment.

hm

Prime Minister's speech is an important first step in recovering from COVID-19

30th June 2020

Following the Prime Minister’s economic recovery speech, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “The Prime Minister’s speech today is an important first step. It demonstrates his vision to build back better and tackle some of the UK’s unresolved challenges as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Welcome announcements include investments of £900m for a range of ‘shovel ready’ local growth projects in England over the course of this year and next, as well as the Prime Minister’s commitment to reforest Britain by planting over 75,000 acres of trees every year by 2025."
 
Nick Molho added: “The Prime Minister’s speech rightly identifies the importance of ‘building back greener’ but this has to be rapidly backed up by support for shovel ready projects and policy decisions that are aligned with the UK’s climate, environmental and clean growth goals. This means focusing public investment and policy measures in areas such as nature restoration, energy efficiency, clean transport, industrial decarbonisation, and skills [1]. Such an approach is not just needed to meet the UK’s environmental ambitions, but it is also essential to ensure that the UK’s recovery plan can address key public interest concerns around unemployment, regional inequality and resilience.”

—ENDS—

[1] The Aldersgate Group will soon be releasing a commissioned report, authored by economists at the London School of Economics on what a successful recovery plan should look like and the role of environmental and climate considerations within that.

PM recovery speech

It is now or never for the UK’s climate targets and clean growth

25th June 2020

Reacting to the Committee on Climate Change’s Progress Report out today, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “It’s crystal clear from today’s report that actions taken this year and during this parliamentary term will have a decisive impact on whether the UK can meet its net zero target, build a competitive low carbon economy and successfully recover from the COVID-19 crisis [1]. Businesses need this to be a priority for the whole of government, with the Prime Minister leading a two-pronged approach to this challenge.

First, new regulations and fiscal incentives must urgently be introduced to accelerate emission cuts in areas where solutions are well known, such as in buildings and surface transport. Second, the Government must adopt a ‘learning by doing’ approach and put in place a truly ambitious innovation policy that accelerates the development of critical technologies to drive down emissions in more complex sectors like heavy industry.”

Nick Molho added: “The CCC hits the nail on the head today by highlighting the central importance of restoring the natural environment to help the UK adapt to climate change and deliver much needed negative emissions to get to net zero. It is absolutely vital that the work being done to drive more investment in the natural environment as part of the Agriculture and Environment Bills is accelerated and made fully consistent with delivering the UK’s climate targets.”  

—ENDS—

[1] On 12 June 2020, the Aldersgate Group launched a policy briefing, Seize the moment: building a thriving, inclusive and resilient economy in the aftermath of COVID-19, setting out a wide range of environmental and low carbon projects that could support a successful economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis whilst also delivering the UK’s climate and environmental goals

CCC logo website

UK trade policy must be aligned with environmental and climate goals

24th June 2020

In its latest briefing out today, Aligning the UK’s trade policy with its climate and environmental goals, the Aldersgate Group calls on the UK government to ensure its upcoming trade agreements are supportive of the UK’s environmental and climate ambitions. The Group argues that putting environmental and climate considerations at the heart of trade deals will strengthen the competitiveness of UK businesses, protect the UK’s right to regulate to achieve its domestic targets and strengthen the UK’s international standing through the promotion of high environmental standards and best practice on the world stage. 
 
With the UK legally committed to achieve net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050, a landmark Environment Bill nearing completion and growing business support calling for a green recovery from the COVID-19 crisis [1], today’s briefing sets out key policy recommendations to help maximise opportunities and minimise potential risks from upcoming trade agreements.
 
Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “Free trade agreements could strengthen the UK’s competitive advantage in the growing global market for low carbon goods and services [2] and increase the UK’s international standing by promoting high environmental standards and global climate co-operation. But without the right provisions, these agreements could make it harder for the UK to achieve its domestic targets and could create an uneven playing field for British businesses forced to compete with imports abiding by lower climate and environmental standards.”
 
To maximise opportunities, today’s briefing argues that future trade agreements should include enforceable environmental provisions, such as a reciprocal commitment between trading partners to deliver the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change. It calls on the Trade Bill to provide for robust parliamentary and stakeholder scrutiny of the environmental impacts of free trade agreements and encourages the government to prioritise the removal of barriers and lowering of tariffs for trade in low carbon goods and services.
 
To minimise risks, the Group argues that the UK’s right to regulate should be clearly enshrined in future trade deals and that the government should avoid agreeing to any kind of dispute settlement or regulatory co-operation mechanisms that could impose restrictions on its ability to introduce new climate and environmental policies in the future. In parallel with its trade policy, the briefing also calls on the government to put in place ambitious domestic policies such as product standards to grow the market for low carbon goods and services and require all businesses active on the UK market to comply with the same standards.
 
Nick Molho added: “Existing free trade agreements have paid insufficient attention to environmental and climate considerations, with environmental terms often playing second fiddle to economic terms. With the business community strongly behind the UK’s environmental and climate ambitions, the Global Britain agenda should be about creating a first of a kind trade policy that puts environmental and clean growth considerations at the heart of future trade deals.”

Alan Tinline, Head of Environment at ABP, said: “ABP welcomes this briefing setting out how the UK can develop an ambitious trade policy which grows trade and enhances environmental standards. As the UK’s leading port owner and operator, ABP is committed to working with government and industry partners to build sustainable supply chains for UK businesses. An ambitious trade policy can further boost UK exports in low carbon technologies, goods and services, helping to achieve shared objectives on decarbonisation, sustainable trade growth and economic rebalancing.”

Shaun Spiers, Executive Director of Green Alliance, said: “If the government is to become a true global leader on climate action, it must use the current opportunity to promote a net zero trade policy. This will benefit both business and the environment. It will be much easier to achieve if the UK gives top priority, in the coming months, to forging a close future environmental partnership with the EU.”

Nick Blyth, Policy Lead at IEMA, said: “There are internationally some concerns around ‘barriers to trade’ and the notion that additional carbon accounting requirements (for example on products) could economically disadvantage some countries. However, at the same time, carbon itself is a growing global commodity, its trade recognised as having a role in implementing the Paris Agreement and in transitions to net-zero. Trade deals and governments must all factor in and support this developing market and address concerns around leakage, competitiveness, and offshored emissions.”

Mike Cole, Head of Public Affairs UK & ROI at Michelin, said: “In this post Brexit new world, the UK will forge new trading relationships with its longstanding partners. It is absolutely vital, however, that no compromise is made on the exacting environmental standards on which the UK is at the forefront. Indeed, the UK will have the opportunity to leverage its excellence and expertise in the low carbon field to grow and expand the sector both at home and abroad. To that end, ensuring a level environmental playing field at the highest possible level will be absolutely crucial.”


Nick Shenken, partner at TLT LLP, said: “As we move towards net zero there’s a real opportunity for the UK to develop a green economy, and aligning the UK’s trade and climate policy would provide a strong foundation from which to shape this future. It would also allow the UK to foster green supply chains which in turn will boost economic recovery, provide jobs in sectors such as clean energy, and allow the UK to take advantage, both at home and via future exports, of the growing market for low carbon goods and services. Key to the latter however will be a joined up government approach so that DIT have clear forward visibility on UK energy policy and are well positioned to negotiate trade agreements that promote trade in those low carbon goods and services on a level playing field.”

Nick Shenken, partner at TLT LLP, added: “Just as importantly, there’s an opportunity for the UK to use FTA negotiations as a method by which to show international leadership in the context of climate change generally – if more detailed, enforceable provisions can be negotiated which incentivise our trading partners to promote similar environmental standards (and not allow those standards to regress), this will maximise the impact that the UK has.”


 —ENDS—
 
[1] 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
 
[2] It is estimated that the global market for low carbon goods and services could grow to around £1trillion a year by 2030:


Low carbon projects are a key solution to jobs, inequality and resilience concerns

12th June 2020

Today, the Aldersgate Group launches a new policy briefing, Seize the moment: building a thriving, inclusive and resilient economy in the aftermath of COVID-19, showcasing a wide range of low carbon and environmental projects that could address some of the key economic and social challenges facing the UK following the COVID-19 crisis. From energy efficiency and charging infrastructure investments to hydrogen trials, green tech and wetland restoration projects, today’s briefing argues that low carbon and nature restoration projects can deliver key benefits in terms of employment, greater regional equality, long-term competitiveness and resilience. 

The briefing contains a wide range of case studies from Aldersgate Group members including Anglian Water, BT, Johnson Matthey, Legal and General Investment Management, National Grid, Scottish Power, Tesco, TLT LLP, Triodos Bank and the RSPB [1]. It follows a recent letter sent by over 200 business leaders to the Prime Minister calling for an economic recovery aligned with the UK’s climate and environmental goals [2] and recommends key policies to deliver these types of projects on the ground.

Reacting to the publication of the briefing, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “There has rarely been a time when the economic, social and environmental agendas have been so closely aligned. It is clear from the case studies in our report that incentivising low carbon and nature restoration projects as part of the UK’s recovery plan could do much to tackle economic and social concerns around jobs, regional inequality, long-term competitiveness and resilience.”

Today’s policy briefing argues that an economic recovery focused on stimulating low carbon and nature restoration projects could deliver key benefits, including:

  • Addressing regional inequality and unemployment;
  • Strengthening the UK’s economic competitiveness and productivity through investment in the sectors and technologies of the future;
  • Delivering critical public goods, including clean air, better health and improved resilience to future environmental shocks;
  • Building a more resilient financial system fit to withstand future climate shocks;
  • Delivering the Global Britain agenda by strengthening the UK government’s influence ahead of the G7 and COP26 summits that it will be hosting in 2021 and enabling UK businesses to be competitive providers of low carbon goods and services.

Nick Molho added: “Putting an ambitious environmental and climate agenda at the heart of the UK’s economic recovery need not be overly reliant on public money. Targeted public investment will be important to support early stage innovation in areas such as hydrogen and carbon capture and storage but a lot of the heavy lifting can be done through the introduction of clear public policy signals to attract private sector investment in areas such as energy efficiency, charging infrastructure and natural capital projects.”

Peter Simpson, Chief Executive, Anglian Water, said: “The need for economic recovery from COVID-19 in the face of the ever more pressing climate emergency presents business leaders not just with an opportunity to create a fairer, more sustainable future, but a responsibility to do so. I believe we can recover from this pandemic in a way that brings economic, environmental and social prosperity. We stand ready to work with government and our communities on a resilient, low carbon future that leaves nobody behind.”

Andy Wales, Chief Digital Impact and Sustainability Officer at BT, said: “As we emerge from the crisis caused by COVID-19, government, businesses and policymakers must put action on climate at the heart of their efforts to revive the economy. BT is stepping up on climate action by backing new green technologies through our Green Tech Innovation Platform and by investing in the UK’s digital infrastructure. We want to encourage and help others to do the same - creating a more sustainable, resilient, low carbon economy.”

Martin Casey, Director Public Affairs Europe at CEMEX, said: “Aligning the economic recovery package with the UK’s net zero emissions goal presents great opportunities for CEMEX. Reducing emissions is not limited to our production process but to the whole life cycle of our products and we have committed globally to reach net zero concrete by 2050. We are committed to continue reducing our direct and indirect emissions in our processes, both through the maximization of the traditional CO2 reduction levers and through implementing Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) and other carbon innovative technologies. Our aim is to enable the development of climate-smart urban projects, sustainable buildings and climate resilient infrastructures. Setting a clear policy direction for restarting the economy will enable the private sector to play its part in the recovery in a way that advances our climate and environmental goals.”

Steve Andrews, CEO at Earthwatch Europe, said: “It is heartening to see so many organisations calling on Government to ensure a fairer, greener recovery post-COVID-19.  Let’s hope they’re listening.  If COVID-19 and lockdown have taught us anything, it is the need to take science seriously and for Government to focus now, with urgency, on threats that seem beyond the electoral cycle.” 

Andy Walker, Technical Marketing Director at Johnson Matthey, said: “As this policy briefing outlines, the government has a “historic opportunity” to accelerate the transition to a low carbon and environmentally resilient economy as it develops and implements its strategy to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.  Since the Climate Change Act was passed, the UK has successfully demonstrated that economic growth can go hand in hand with emissions reductions, further supporting the widely held view that measures which cut greenhouse gas emissions and stimulate the economy can be extremely effective in supporting jobs and economic growth.  This “Build Back Better” approach has the additional benefit of putting the UK on track to deliver our 2050 net zero commitments, strengthening our leadership and influence at the upcoming COP26 and G7 summits, as well as generating lasting social, competitiveness and resilience benefits.”

Alexander Burr, Global ESG Public Policy Analyst at Legal and General Investment Management, said: “The UK government is faced with a unique opportunity to show that we are not returning to ‘business as usual’ through a recovery package that accelerates green economic growth. Over recent weeks, businesses and investors have been pledging their willingness and support for this agenda. The government should build on this foundation, bringing forward mandatory climate reporting and broadening its reach. Investors like LGIM need greater transparency and comparability from companies on their climate-related risks and opportunities, to direct capital into ‘green’ projects at scale. As we have seen lately, there is such a thing as being too late – it is time to act now!”

Keith Anderson, CEO of Scottish Power said: “There is now a compelling case for accelerating investment in a cleaner, greener society to deliver positive outcomes for both the economy and the environment. Positive outcomes that will benefit all of us thanks to cleaner power, cleaner home heating and cleaner transport. We must make our recovery green – delivering the much-needed jobs and investment that will get people, businesses, towns and cities back on their feet while cleaning up the environment and decarbonising the economy. The government cannot let this moment pass the country by.”

He added: “We’re proud to be at the forefront of developing green infrastructure projects that will do just that. For example, partnering with Scottish Government and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks to support the shift to electric vehicles in a way that will ensure fair and equal access for all. Developments like this will be a real game-changer in moving us closer to net zero – as well as supporting the economy – and that’s why the two can, and must, go hand in hand. Only by doing that can we all achieve a cleaner and greener future – a better future – quicker.”

Maria Connolly, Head of Clean Energy & Real Estate at TLT LLP, said: “The positive impact that the last few months have had on the environment means that as we’re looking forward the question that’s being asked is, could a green recovery bolster the economy and accelerate our drive towards net zero by emphasising sustainable business practices and modern green industry over more traditional carbon intensive sectors? An economic recovery which places an ambitious environmental and climate agenda at its core would, without a doubt, also refocus growth, policy development and funding. While the backing of the financial sector is need to achieve this vision, for many banks and funders clean energy assets are still viewed as a stable investment, and if you consider the upscale in clean energy generation – an estimated 90GW of wind energy, 80GW of solar power and 30GW of energy storage - that will be required to achieve net zero then this represents an exciting opportunity to drive economic growth by creating jobs and developing local supply chains based on clean energy.”

Bevis Watts, CEO of Triodos Bank UK, said: “We now have a window of opportunity, as we seek to overcome the challenges of the coronavirus crisis. A recovery should seek to increase resilience across all areas of society and focus on shaping a more inclusive and low carbon economy. Triodos has always been a pioneer in sustainable finance – most recently we have been looking at linking the economic and societal benefits we take for granted from nature to real investment in its restoration. We need collaborative action to develop an economy linked to societal health and environmental limits and require a financial sector that proactively looks for solutions to achieve that. Simply a move to avoiding harm is not enough.”

Julia Barrett, Chief Sustainability Officer at Willmott Dixon, said: “We welcome this briefing from the Aldersgate Group, and believe that putting an ambitious environmental and climate agenda at the heart of the recovery will ensure that the UK economy is more competitive in the long-term whilst being more resilient to future risks. We believe that by investing in a nationwide retrofit programme supported by clear policy signals, government could deliver rapid localised job creation, whilst addressing the social inequalities associated with fuel poverty and poor health associated with living in cold homes. This is an essential step on our journey to net zero emissions as 80% of the buildings that will exist in 2050 are here now.”

Darren Moorcroft, CEO of the Woodland Trust, said: “A resilient economy and society require a resilient environment. This welcome work by the Aldersgate Group shows how vital it is that we seize this moment and ensure that actions to reboot the economy set us firmly on the road to net zero and show world leading ambition when it comes to restoring our natural environment.  Protecting, restoring and expanding native tree cover – with all the social, economic and environmental benefits that will bring - belongs at the heart of any ‘green recovery’ worthy of the name. The Woodland Trust has a powerful record of delivery and stands ready to play its part - working alongside business, government and our NGO partners to help transform our nation into a better place for people and wildlife.”

—ENDS—

[1] The briefing provides an overview of a wide range of case studies and projects from Anglian Water, BT, Johnson Matthey, National Grid, Scottish Power, the Teeside Collective, Tesco, TLT LLP, Triodos, Legal and General Investment Management and the RSPB. This briefing will soon be followed by in-depth economic analysis from the London School of Economics commissioned by the Aldersgate Group, setting out what should be the key pillars of the UK’s economic recovery plan.

[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.


More than 200 business leaders urge the Prime Minister to put low carbon growth at heart of recovery

29th May 2020

More than 200 leading UK businesses, investors and business networks, including several Aldersgate Group members [1], are writing to the Prime Minister today, urging for an ambitious environmental and low carbon agenda to be put at the heart of the upcoming economic recovery. In the letter, coordinated by several of the UK’s business groups [2], business leaders argue that such an approach is essential to tackle key public interest concerns, such as high unemployment, regional inequality and lack of resilience.

Following the coverage of the letter to the Prime Minister in the Financial Times and BBC news ahead of the publication of two major reports on the UK’s economic recovery, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “Today’s letter to the Prime Minister from business leaders across the UK economy shows that the economic, social and environmental agendas are fully aligned.  From clean industrial clusters and energy efficiency to tree planning and renewable energy, low carbon growth and natural capital investments can play a key role in recovering from COVID-19 pandemic. These measures will help tackle unemployment and bring investment to parts of the UK in urgent need of economic opportunities. Placing climate and the environment at the heart of the recovery will also ensure that the UK economy is built on foundations that will make it competitive in the long-term and more resilient to future risks.”

The Aldersgate Group will soon be publishing a policy briefing setting out examples of projects and investments that will help rebuild the economy better, followed by an in-depth economic analysis on how to best design the UK’s upcoming recovery.

—ENDS—

[1] The following Aldersgate Group members have signed the letter: UKGBC, Aviva Investors, BT plc, Buro Happold, CEMEX EMEAA, IKEA UK and Ireland, IEMA, Interface, Johnson Matthey, Kingfisher plc, Legal & General Investment, Lloyds Banking Group, Melius Homes, Michelin Tyre PLC,  National Grid, Ramboll UK Limited, ScottishPower, Siemens GB&I, Sky Group, SUEZ UK, Tesco, Thames Water, Triodos Bank UK, Willmott Dixon, WSP.

[2] The letter published by the Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group today was supported by multiple business groups including the Climate Group, the Aldersgate Group, CDP, the B Team, Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, the Climate Group, Business in the Community, the UK Green Building Council, and more.


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