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Businesses support rapid implementation of environmental principles

12th May 2022

Reacting to the publication of the Draft Policy Statement on Environmental Principles, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “We welcome the publication of the Draft Policy Statement on Environmental Principles, which provides greater clarity on the application of environmental principles by Ministers. Businesses would like to see a rapid and full implementation of these principles across all Government departments, with environmental principles being considered at a very early stage in the policy development process. From a business perspective, this will help ensure that all Government policies are supportive of positive environmental outcomes, and are coherent and cost-effective. At a time where the focus is on restoring nature – not just preventing further environmental damage –, the consistent implementation of environmental principles across Whitehall should go hand in hand with cross-government efforts to meet the nature restoration targets currently being developed under the Environment Act.”
 
Nick Molho concluded: “The Environmental Principles Policy Statement provides some welcome clarity on how the five environmental principles should be applied in practice. However, the guidance provided on the application of some principles, such as the precautionary principle, would benefit from further clarification through the development of specific case studies. We would encourage the Government to work closely with stakeholders on developing these in the months ahead.”

Forest and river

Time of crisis demands raised ambitions on energy efficiency and power decarbonisation

10th May 2022

Reacting to today’s Queen’s Speech and the State Opening of Parliament, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “Addressing the energy efficiency of the UK’s built environment and accelerating our transition away from volatile fossil fuels in heating is crucial to support households through the ongoing cost of living crisis. Today’s announcements make some progress in this area, with the welcome intentions to boost consumer protections and trust in new technologies by setting up a market standard and trading scheme for heat pumps, and appointing Ofgem as regulator for heat networks through the new Energy Bill.
 
Nick Molho added: “However, it is critical to roll out a comprehensive programme for energy efficiency in parallel, as the quickest way to reduce demand for gas and bills in the short term. Boosting energy efficiency holds the potential not only to reduce bills, but also create jobs across the country as part of the government’s “Levelling Up” agenda. With this in mind we welcome the new measures outlined in today’s speech to introduce business models for CCS, transmission and storage infrastructure and hydrogen, which are key in driving down costs and boosting investment in these new low carbon technologies.
 
Nick Molho concluded: “The establishment of the Future System Operator is also a positive step forward, ensuring better coordination and oversight of future grid transmission development needs, which is a vital part of the effective renewable power system we need to end our reliance on fossil fuels. To build upon this, the role of Ofgem in facilitating net zero delivery must be clarified, with a focus on allowing greater levels of anticipatory investment in transmission infrastructure to build an effective net zero energy system. It is also crucial that introducing competition to the UK’s onshore electricity measures delivers higher investment and cost savings, and does not lead to delivery delays.”

CIRCLE_pexels-pixabay-258117

Greater energy independence requires more focus on energy efficiency 

7th April 2022

Reacting to the publication of the British Energy Security Strategy, Ana Musat, Head of Policy at Aldersgate Group said: “Accelerating the decarbonisation of the UK's power sector, electrifying more sectors of the economy and driving greater energy efficiency all have an essential role to play in improving the UK's energy security. With this in mind, we welcome the ambition in today’s British Energy Security Strategy to provide 95% of electricity from low carbon sources by 2030, the boosted targets for technologies such as offshore wind and solar power and the increased ambition in low carbon and green hydrogen. The stronger focus on delivery – including on transmission connections for offshore wind projects – is very welcome. However, the Government’s ambitions in low-cost onshore wind could be much bolder and it is disappointing to see so little focus on new regulatory measures and incentives to drive more investment in energy efficiency. Reducing energy demand is an essential part of lowering energy bills for households and businesses and making our economy more resilient to price shocks.”  
 
Ana Musat added: “It is however encouraging to see an emphasis on planning reforms aimed at bringing shovel-ready renewable projects online much faster, by simplifying the process for obtaining transmission grid connections and streamlining the consenting regime. Currently, transmission connections and grid reinforcement projects can take on average between 6-8 years from formulation to consent, with costs between £15- £50m per project [1]. This clearly needs to be reduced to maximise the full potential of the UK’s offshore wind sector and its capacity to deliver clean, cheap power.”
 
Ana Musat concluded: “Whilst unprecedented short-term energy security concerns mean measures like improving gas storage capacity and optimising production from existing fields in the North Sea are necessary, accelerating the transition to net zero emissions will be the most effective way to improve the UK’s energy security and economic resilience in the medium and long term. It is therefore crucial that the Government’s policy capacity remains focused on this in the years ahead and that the rapid implementation of the Net Zero Strategy is a cross-government priority.”
 
[1] Quod Consulting (March 2021) - National Grid: Planning for 40GW by 2030 – how to meet the challenge

Windfarm for old site

Aldersgate Group comment: IPCC Working Group III report

4th April 2022

Responding to the findings of today’s IPCC Working Group III report on climate mitigation, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “Today’s IPCC report is a reminder that despite the ongoing geopolitical crisis, the risks relating to climate change have not gone away and require an urgent response, including a rapid reduction in fossil fuel use. The IPCC’s companion report on adaptation [1] and the UK’s own climate change risk assessment [2] made clear the dangers we face now and in the future through further inaction. In response to today’s report, the UK Government should press ahead with its Net Zero Strategy and should use its Energy Security Strategy expected later this week to significantly scale up renewable energy, support more electrification across key sectors and drive energy efficiency across the economy. Reducing reliance on volatile and expensive fossil fuels and accelerating the net zero transition not only makes sense to lower emissions, it also presents an opportunity to boost energy security, drive down energy bills and level up the economy [3].
 
Nick Molho added: It is positive to see the report highlight the importance of action in this decade to mitigate the built environment’s carbon emissions. The UK must increase its ambition in this area and take action to drive investment in energy efficiency, and deliver the skills programmes required to make the most of this opportunity in line with the recommendations of the Green Jobs Taskforce. The decarbonisation of heavy industry also features as a priority in the IPCC report. The UK is off to a good start on industrial decarbonisation but must push ahead with policies that make low carbon fuels more widely available to heavy industries, whilst also growing the demand for low carbon industrial products through initiatives such as product standards and a carbon border adjustment mechanism [4].
 
Nick Molho concluded: “Despite a challenging context, the international community must present a united front on delivering the ambitious action needed to address the climate crisis. As COP President, the UK Government has a crucial role to play in this process. The UK must ensure that by the start of COP27, nations deliver on promises made in Glasgow to increase emission reduction pledges (INDCs) at COP27, make stronger commitments to phase out fossil fuels, put forward tangible emission reduction plans and actually deliver on the climate finance promised to developing economies. With a world leading climate policy framework and one of the first net zero strategies of any major economy, the UK also has a huge role to play in sharing its policy development and institutional expertise with other nations, and in particular developing economies.”

[1] IPCC, AR6 Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, February 2022
[2] UK Government, UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2022, January 2022
[3] Aldersgate Group, Net Zero Strategy Policy Tracker, October 2022
[4] Aldersgate Group, The Missing Link: Establishing Strong UK Supply Chains for Low Carbon Industrial Products, March 2022 

Iceberg

Independent evaluation of net zero targets vital to drive investment and match ambition with delivery

31st March 2022

Reacting to the United Nations Secretary General's announcement to set up an independent expert panel to review net zero targets, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “At a time when the impacts of climate change are being increasingly felt around the globe and the world economy faces high and unpredictable fossil fuel prices, there has never been a more strategic time for businesses to move to zero or net zero emissions. In the run up to COP26, an increasing number of businesses recognised the commercial and moral imperative of playing their part to tackle climate change and have taken on net zero emissions targets. This is welcome. But it is important that there is a strong baseline and level playing field in place that allows investors, businesses, consumers and the public to independently assess the credibility of different commitments and the progress that individual businesses are making to meet them.”

Nick Molho added: “Ensuring that net zero targets, and the plans to achieve them, are based on scientific, transparent and comparable criteria is not only key to building public and consumer trust, it is also essential to guide investment decisions. An increasing number of investors want to grow their stake in low-carbon technologies, infrastructure and services, and to do so, they need to have a clear and reliable picture of businesses’ climate commitments and how these compare in ambition. So, as an organisation that has always stood for robust targets and disclosure requirements from business, the Aldersgate Group fully supports the UN Secretary General António Guterres’ decision to set up an independent expert panel to provide recommendations on the most credible ways to set and report progress against net zero targets.”

Nick Molho concluded: “To be effective and ensure clarity, the work of the expert group should build on the most credible target setting frameworks that exist already, such as the Science-Based Target Initiative, as a lot of work has already gone into identifying what constitutes robust, science-based criteria. It would also be highly valuable if the Expert Group could provide independent recommendations and guidance on how businesses should develop their net zero transition plans, how they should report on their progress against their targets, and how these requirements can then best be incorporated in domestic and global legislation.”

United Nations

Aldersgate Group reacts to the Chancellor's Spring Statement

23rd March 2022

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “We strongly welcome the Chancellor’s announcement to remove VAT from a broad range of energy efficiency and renewables investments in homes. These measures will help make domestic energy efficiency and clean energy projects more attractive and help lower consumer bills.
 
However, in light of the significant energy security and gas price crisis facing the UK, the Government should also be looking at introducing supplementary measures to drive greater investment in energy efficiency and low carbon heat in homes. These could include the introduction of regulatory energy efficiency targets, incentives introduced through the UK Infrastructure Bank such as 0% interest loans for energy efficiency measures and further grants for heat pumps, as well as a dedicated programme to accelerate skills development in energy efficiency and low carbon heat installation.”
 
Nick Molho added: “We welcome the announcement to use tax reform to promote greater investment in skills and innovation. Increasing investment in these areas is not only essential to improve the UK economy’s productivity, but also to accelerate low carbon investment in key sectors like energy, transport, heavy industry and buildings.”
 
Nick Molho concluded: “The Chancellor outlined that the UK’s growth forecast for the coming years has been significantly reduced. This comes at a time where the UK economy faces not only a cost-of-living crisis, but also a need to create good quality jobs across the country to level up the economy. Keeping the UK on track to meet its net zero emissions target has a key role to play in driving investment and job creation across the country in areas such as electric vehicle manufacturing, offshore wind, insulation and heavy industry. Implementing the Government’s Net Zero Strategy at pace should therefore remain a top priority for the Government.”


ENDS

PARLI

Move to net zero emissions creates an opportunity to grow UK industrial supply chains – but a comprehensive plan is needed

17th March 2022

The Aldersgate Group launches a new report today arguing that the decarbonisation of the UK’s heavy industrial and manufacturing sectors could drive the growth of low carbon industrial supply chains in the UK, increase these sectors’ contribution to the economy, and make UK industry more resilient to global economic shocks and supply chain disruptions.
 
Based on significant engagement with major businesses across heavy industrial and manufacturing sectors, this report calls on Government to build on its Net Zero and Industrial Decarbonisation Strategies and put in place a comprehensive plan to establish stronger low carbon industrial supply chains. It outlines the measures required to accelerate innovation, grow the demand for low carbon industrial products, incentivise greater resource efficiency, provide a level playing field against high carbon imports, and stimulate investment in skills. The key recommendations are summarised below. [1]


As of COP26, 136 countries – covering over 90% of global GDP – have committed to achieving net zero. [3] This presents a significant opportunity for heavy industry and manufacturing to supply the essential materials for net zero infrastructure: from green steel in wind turbines and EVs, glass for solar panels and low carbon concrete in energy efficient buildings.
 
Establishing strong low carbon industrial supply chains will be pivotal to ensuring that the UK reaps the economic benefits of supplying these components. For example, just one 10MW wind turbine requires £880,000 worth of steel. This presents domestic producers with a significant opportunity if they are able to provide a share of the materials needed to meet the
Government’s target of 40GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030.
 
Similarly, were the UK to retain and reprocess the lithium and cobalt in its existing EV fleet – which together are worth over £57m [4] – it could mitigate the environmental and human rights impact of new mining exploration, reap the economic benefits from greater resource efficiency, and become less dependent on imports of precious metals from countries such as China and Russia.
 
With heavy industry a major employer outside of London and the South East, growing a strong industrial base, fit to supply the building blocks of a net zero economy, will be key to Government’s levelling up agenda. For example, the UK’s regionally dispersed industrial clusters are hubs of economic activity, providing 1.5 million jobs and exporting goods and services worth £320 billion. [5]
 
However, high electricity prices, low public investment, and low retention of key materials for remanufacture have led to an increase of imports of industrial products rather than increased demand for domestic low carbon products. This can lead to major delays – as has been seen in the construction sector, where the delivery of key products (such as bricks) is taking as long as 12 months due to supply shortages, affecting the UK’s capacity to build and exacerbating the housing crisis. [6] Meanwhile, the current gas price crisis and shortages of key raw materials illustrate the impacts of fluctuations in global supplies.
 
Despite welcome commitments in the Industrial Decarbonisation and Net Zero Strategies, a comprehensive plan from government, including targeted and more accessible investment to support fuel switching and large-scale deployment of key technologies is needed to create a business environment conducive to investment in low carbon production.
 
Backed by extensive engagement with representatives from heavy industry and manufacturing such as the steel, cement, glass, construction and automotive sectors, today’s publication makes recommendations to establish a robust industrial and manufacturing base in the UK that is able to take advantage of growing demand for low carbon products, and mitigate key dependencies on other countries for critical materials and components vital to the UK’s economy.

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “UK heavy industrial sectors already employ more than 2.6 million people and contribute £170bn each year [7] to the UK economy. The net zero transition provides an opportunity to grow this contribution even further by increasing investment in domestic supply chains to support these sectors as they decarbonise. For this to materialise, the Government must put in place a comprehensive set of measures that grows the demand for low carbon industrial products, accelerates innovation in key technologies such as CCS and low carbon hydrogen, makes the price of electricity more competitive and provides a level playing field against high carbon imports whilst maximising opportunities to export low carbon industrial products.”

Key recommendations for government include:

  • Introduce measures to reduce UK industrial electricity prices by accelerating investment in grid development and low-cost renewables (such as solar, onshore wind and offshore wind), improving co-ordination between grid and generation infrastructure, supporting continued growth of interconnection and storage, and establishing a market for long-term, zero carbon and tradable electricity contracts.
  • Put forward tangible proposals for a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) – a system through which importers must purchase carbon certificates that correspond to the domestic carbon price they would have paid if they produced those goods in the UK. This would prevent high carbon imports from gaining a growing market share at the expense of low carbon goods produced by UK firms.
  • Alongside proposals for a CBAM, Government should finalise the consultation on product standards with a view to introducing mandatory standards with targets on embodied carbon, lifecycle emissions, and the recycled content of products sold on the UK market. This would grow the demand for products such as car bodies made with recycled steel, or cement with a lower level of embodied carbon in the buildings sector.
  • In public and private procurement contracts, Government and businesses with significant purchasing power should implement requirements for a higher percentage of goods procured to be low carbon. This would drive demand for goods with lower levels of embodied and lifecycle emissions, such as glazing made with recycled glass, and incentivise the UK’s heavy industries to pivot to greener production processes.
  • Increase innovation funding to facilitate fuel switching and the development of new low carbon technologies where routes to electrification and low carbon production do not yet exist. This could follow a similar model to the Glass Futures initiative, which, through industry and government collaboration, has established an ultra low carbon glass making plant that trials new technologies and fuels, and has created a research and developing sector to take the sector closer to net zero. Rapidly finalising the hydrogen and CCUS business models will be essential in lowering the cost of these technologies and speeding up their adoption across key sectors.
  • BEIS and the Department for Education (DfE) should work with industry, unions, and Local Authorities (LAs), to design skills centres to train and reskill workers in areas that are essential to delivering a net zero economy. This should include delivering the National Skills Fund to retrain workers and ensure a just transition.
  • Offer tax relief on investments that create cheaper, more efficient practices for recovering and sorting materials, and introduce tax incentives, such as reduced business rates on waste materials sold in the UK to stimulate investment in the recovery and reprocessing of valuable resources that already exist within the UK.
  • Establish mandatory sustainability criteria for the export of waste and scrap to create a level playing field between domestic and international markets for waste materials.

Alan Tinline, Group Head of Health, Safety and Environment at Associated British Ports, said: “It has never been more apparent that the UK must transition urgently towards low carbon industrial supply chains. This will require a more efficient use of energy, widespread modal shifts, and expansion in low carbon energy production to power a resource-efficient economy through innovation and upskilling. ABP is working at pace in all these areas to support and facilitate rapid decarbonisation in the supply chain. This policy briefing from the Aldersgate Group highlights a number of key areas that will accelerate decarbonisation in the supply chain, with actions that could be undertaken in short order.”
 
Adam Whitmore, Principal Policy Adviser at Bellona, said: “Achieving net zero presents tremendous opportunities for UK industry and the wider UK economy. This report provides a welcome range of practical recommendations for how these opportunities can be realised, from developing innovation and skills to creating demand for low carbon products and enhancing competitiveness. It is an important contribution to the policy debates.”

Fiacre O’Donnell, Director of Sustainability at Encirc, said: “Establishing a low carbon industrial sector offers a number of significant opportunities to the UK, from emissions reductions and resource efficiency, to job creation, exports, and expansion into rapidly growing markets for low carbon goods. We welcome this Aldersgate Group briefing and the recommendations it makes to government, who must support the growth of competitive low carbon industrial supply chains to ensure the UK stands ready to harness these opportunities as we approach net zero.”

Danial Sturge, Carbon Policy Practice Manager at the Energy Systems Catapult, said: “Industry sits at the heart of innovation, which is not only important for the UK’s Net Zero ambitions, but provides an opportunity to lead the world in creating a market for low carbon manufacturing and products, supported by robust carbon accounting and standards. The Aldersgate Group’s recommendations lay out the near-term steps needed to reach our long-term climate goals.”

Roz Bulleid, Deputy Policy Director at Green Alliance, said: “Forward thinking companies and consumers are already asking for greener raw materials and components – recycled steel, lower carbon cement, more efficient glass – UK industries need to adapt or see their markets wither away. But adaptation isn’t easy when you’re talking about large, capital intensive plants with long lifecycles. That’s why, as this report sets out, the government needs to step in, bridging the gap to a greener industrial future with a suite of policy measures that can level up the playing field for early movers and give long term confidence to those looking to invest in lower carbon processes and products.”

Sam French, Business Development Director at Johnson Matthey, said: “The UK’s transition to net zero is urgently needed for both the climate and economy. It also gives industrial producers and manufacturers the opportunity to benefit from growing demand for low carbon products. This report outlines the steps needed to drive innovation towards low carbon production, and the measures that will ensure the UK can provide vital industrial goods and services at a time when the world is facing increasing political and economic instability.”

Ed Heath-Whyte, Head of Environment and Sustainability at Liberty Steel, said: “As the drive towards net zero intensifies, low-carbon products present significant opportunities to reduce energy consumption, cut waste, and increase reuse. The role of demand-side policies from UK Government in addressing product standards, public procurement, carbon leakage mitigation amongst others will be crucial to encouraging this market growth. The recommendations from the Aldersgate Group report provide important thinking on the policy environment needed to support industrial competitiveness and to develop relevant supply chains.”

Chris McDonald, Chief Executive Officer at the Materials Processing Institute, said: “Industrial products are vital for our security and economic prosperity, they are also the basis on which the green economy can be realised.  Our industrial supply chains are key employers throughout the UK, but are at risk from high energy prices and offshoring.  As we look to green our economy and increase resilience, the recommendations in this report from Aldersgate Group, will ensure that the UK captures the opportunities of Net Zero, creates jobs and protects our vital sovereign capability.”

John Howe, Managing Director of Michelin UK, said: “Re-treaded truck tyres can be a significant contributor to resource efficiency and decarbonisation. We welcome this Aldersgate Group paper and we would echo the calls for government to do all it can to retain valuable secondary materials for remanufacturing in the UK.”

Philippa Spence, Managing Director at Ramboll UK said: “As the world continues with its transition to a net zero economy, the need for low carbon industrial products will grow exponentially. This means growth, jobs and exports not only for the UK’s heavy industries but all along the value chain, in areas like the construction and automotive sectors. We welcome this new report from the Aldersgate Group, which puts forward tangible solutions to enable the UK to fully harness these opportunities, while accelerating the pace and cost efficiency of industrial decarbonisation.”
 
Kate Turner, Regulation and Policy Director at ScottishPower Renewables, said: “Doubling down on decarbonisation will create a secure, clean, green and fairer economy and going faster and harder on net zero is critical if we’re to retain the UK’s competitive advantage in renewables and support long-term energy security. Across ScottishPower we’re investing £10bn to accelerate low carbon infrastructure, creating green jobs and huge opportunities to establish a sustainable UK supply chain that can compete globally for decades to come. We need to seize this moment, the recommendations in this report can help to unlock clean, cheap and secure power generated at home and provide the framework for green growth.”
 
Olivia Whitlam, Head of Sustainability at Siemens, said: “Taking a thorough approach to creating a low carbon market in all tiers of the supply chain not only supports decarbonisation of the economy, but has the potential to deliver significant economic benefits, driving resource efficiency and security to ensure the UK can thrive. We welcome the recommendations of this Aldersgate Group report, which lay out a clear framework for government to accelerate strong supply chains while harnessing these benefits of the transition to net zero.”
 
John Scanlon, Chief Executive Officer for SUEZ recycling and recovery UK said: “Improved resource efficiency is critical to decarbonising the UK’s heavy industries and manufacturing sectors, and the recycling and resource management sector has an important role to play in this. Whether it is working on solutions to re-use material that others throw away, recycling wind turbine blades or supplying the cement industry with a fossil fuel alternative, at SUEZ we are already playing our part. However, there is much more to do for the UK to meet the net zero challenge. I therefore welcome the recommendations in this Aldersgate Group paper, that set out tangible steps to improve performance throughout the supply chain.”
 
Julia Barrett, Chief Sustainability Officer at Willmott Dixon, said: “We warmly welcome the Aldersgate Group’s new briefing on low carbon industrial supply chains. The built environment consumes almost half of the materials extracted globally every year, and as this report highlights, we need a systematic rethink to drive the supply of low carbon products and investment in skills and resource efficiency. There is an opportunity for Government to accelerate the transition through its own procurement, and by joint departmental working to eliminate the unintended consequences of siloed policy development.

- FOOTNOTES -

Our previous reports on industrial decarbonisation include Accelerating the Decarbonisation of Industrial Clusters and Dispersed Sites – which provides a comprehensive policy framework for the quick and cost-effective decarbonisation of heavy industry – and Delivering Competitive Industrial Electricity Prices in an Era of Transition – which provides a series of measures that government can take to reduce the cost of electricity for industrial users.
 
[1] The Aldersgate Group’s new report, The Missing Link: Establish a strong UK supply chain for low carbon industrial products, is available to download from the button on the right.
 
[2] This publication will be discussed at a public webinar from 9.30am to 11.15am on March 17 with panellists from key industry organisations and the lead author of the report. You can register here.
 
[3] Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, Data-Driven Enviro Lab, New Climate Institute, Oxford Net Zero (2021) Net Zero Tracker [accessed 03/03/2022]
 
[4] Green Alliance (November 2021) Critical Point: Securing the raw materials needed for the UK’s green transition p.15
 
[5] HM Government (September 2017) Industrial Clusters in England
 
[6] Federation of Master Builders (20 April, 2018) Material Prices Continue to Rocket, Says FMB [accessed 03/03/2022]
 
[7] BEIS (March 2021) Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy p.16


Ambitious framework needed to deliver step change in nature recovery

16th March 2022

Responding to the publication of the Nature Recovery Green Paper and the environmental targets consultation, Signe Norberg, Head of Public Affairs and Communications at the Aldersgate Group said: “Businesses across the economy – from water and food to energy and construction - have a key role to play in delivering a positive step change in nature restoration and see this as a key part of improving their resilience and competitiveness. To this end, businesses are strongly supportive of the introduction of ambitious environmental regulations and targets that are set at the right level, have clear lead-in periods and are properly enforced. Today's publication of the Nature Recovery Green Paper and the targets consultation is a welcome step forward. However, to attract meaningful and long-term private investment, the ultimate targets and reforms must aim to substantially improve environmental standards and must result in bold, forward looking, well joined-up and properly enforced environmental regulations, policies and market mechanisms."

Signe Norberg concluded: "To be credible, the new nature improvement targets under the Environment Act must focus on delivering significant environmental improvements and it is not yet evident from the consultation that this is the case for all targets. Critically, businesses can only respond to long-term targets if these are backed by nearer-term interim targets and clear policies and incentives, both of which will need to be clearly set out in the next Environment Improvement Plan due in January 2023. Today’s long-term targets consultation provides us with some important initial building blocks. But to achieve the vision that underpins the Environment Act, it is essential that this process delivers bold and carefully joined-up targets across all key areas of policy, including on resource efficiency where policy progress has stalled in recent years." [1]

- ENDS -

[1] Aldersgate Group (2021) Closing the Loop

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Now is the time to take urgent action on climate adaptation

28th February 2022

Responding to the findings of today’s IPCC Working Group II report on climate adaptation, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “Today’s report from the IPCC makes it crystal clear that adapting to the impacts of climate change cannot be an afterthought and must be a priority across all areas of government policy. It provides further global evidence of the impact of climate change, adding to the UK’s own climate change risk assessment published in January [1]. The UK and the international community must now urgently accelerate efforts to both cut emissions and improve their resilience to climate impacts. This is essential to protect homes, infrastructure, food production and the resilience of the global supply chains that our economies and people rely on.
 
Building on the Glasgow Climate Pact, this report is also a reminder to the UK and the Global North that they must act now to deliver increased climate finance to developing economies to support them with the urgent investment required to address climate change adaptation and emission cuts. Tangible progress in this area must be a key outcome of COP27 in Egypt.”

Nick Molho concluded: "Now is the time to take urgent action by backing nature and implementing policy measures that reflect the severity of this report’s findings and minimise the future impact of climate change on society, infrastructure and businesses. Public investment in adaptation measures such as flood defences must be increased alongside supportive planning reforms that encourage climate resilient developments, and policy incentives that can help drive private investment in key areas such as nature restoration."

FOOTNOTES

[1] On 10 February the Aldersgate Group held an event exploring the UK’s third Climate Change Risk Assessment featuring Baroness Brown and an expert business panel. Click here to watch the recording.

Climate adaptation

Prof Emily Shuckburgh OBE appointed Honorary President of the Aldersgate Group

24th February 2022

Today, the Aldersgate Group announces the appointment of climate scientist Prof Emily Shuckburgh OBE as its new Honorary President. She will take over from former Honorary President, Dame Fiona Woolf DBE [1]. Prof Shuckburgh will provide strategic scientific advice to help guide the Aldersgate Group’s objectives and work programme. 

Prof Shuckburgh is a leading public voice on climate science and brings unparalleled academic experience and insights to the Aldersgate Group. She is currently Director of Cambridge Zero [2], the University of Cambridge’s major climate change initiative, which she joined following more than a decade at the British Antarctic Survey leading a national research programme on the Southern Ocean and its role in climate.

She is also a fellow of the Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership, the British Antarctic Survey and the Royal Meteorological Society, and co-authored the Ladybird Book on Climate Change with HRH The Prince of Wales and Tony Juniper. To mark her outstanding achievements to date, Prof Shuckburgh was awarded an OBE in 2016 for services to science and the public communication of science. [3]

Prof Shuckburgh joins the Aldersgate Group at the start of a critical year for delivering meaningful progress on climate change and the environment. The pledges made at COP26, the UK’s Net Zero Strategy and the Environment Act collectively set a clear roadmap to decarbonise the economy and restore the natural environment. A key focus for the Aldersgate Group in 2022 will be to ensure that these targets and ambitions are underpinned by detailed domestic policies that will drive affordable business investment in low carbon infrastructure, biodiversity and nature at the pace and scale called for by science. [4]

Prof Emily Shuckburgh OBE said: “With carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere approaching 420 ppm, global temperature rise passing 1.1C and extreme weather becoming normality, climate commitments must be translated into action today to avert disaster. I am delighted to take on the role of Honorary President to support the Aldersgate Group and its cross-sectoral membership in promoting an accelerated, just transition to a resilient and sustainable zero-carbon economy. As the world emerges from the pandemic, it is vitally important that the voice of progressive business is heard clearly to ensure the world sets forth towards a prosperous green future.” 

Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Chair of the Aldersgate Group, said: “To play its part in preventing the worst impacts from climate change, it is essential that the UK economy cut emissions to meet our interim targets. This will also allow the UK to develop a globally competitive low carbon economy which will deliver investment and jobs across the country. I look forward to working with Prof Shuckburgh to ensure that the Aldersgate Group’s work rises to the challenge.” 

Nick Molho, Executive Director, Aldersgate Group, said: “I would like to thank Dame Fiona Woolf for the six years of service she dedicated to the Group and the strong links she helped the Aldersgate Group build with a wide cross-section of the business community in the UK.

“We are delighted to welcome Prof Shuckburgh as our new Honorary President. The Aldersgate Group and its members firmly believe that ambitious climate and environmental policies can improve living standards and deliver significant economic benefits in terms of innovation, investment in new supply chains and job creation across the country. Prof Shuckburgh’s expertise will help us ensure that our policy work continues to be grounded in the latest evidence and is in line with the speed and scale of action demanded by science.”

Dame Fiona Woolf DBE, former Honorary President of the Aldersgate Group, said: “It has been a wonderful opportunity to be the Honorary President of the Aldersgate Group for six years. The Aldersgate Group is unique in understanding the critical role that ambitious businesses across the economy want and need to play to tackle climate change and I am proud to have been able to strengthen these relationships. I would like to wish Prof Emily Shuckburgh every success as she joins the Aldersgate Group at a critical time for the climate and environmental agenda.”

[1] Dame Fiona Woolf DBE was Honorary President of the Aldersgate Group from April 2015 to July 2021.

[2] More information on Cambridge Zero can be found here.

[3] A fuller biography for Prof Emily Shuckburgh OBE can be found here.

[4] In October 2021, the Aldersgate Group published a Net Zero Strategy Policy Tracker, outlining the key next steps in terms of policy to put all sectors of the economy on track for net zero emissions and maximise supply chain growth and job creation in the process. The report is available here.


Net zero transition is essential to delivering the Levelling Up agenda

2nd February 2022

Reacting to the upcoming publication of the UK Government's Levelling Up White Paper, Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group, said: “The Government’s 12 missions to level up the UK set a welcome ambition to spread economic opportunities, high quality education and a good quality of life across the country. A rapid transition to a net zero emissions economy is going to be absolutely essential to deliver these goals in practice. Growing investment in renewable energy [1], building insulation [2], electric vehicles [3], public transport and low carbon industrial clusters [4] hold the key to creating jobs, improving productivity, driving private investment and skilling up the workforce across the country. If the Government is serious about its Levelling Up ambitions, it must proceed at pace with the implementation of its Net Zero Strategy [5].”  

FOOTNOTES

[1] It is estimated that the offshore wind sector will see jobs increasing from 26,000 currently to 70,000 by 2026, with jobs created in areas such as the Solent, the Humber and Scotland - Offshore Wind Industry Council [OWIC] (2021), Offshore Wind Skills Intelligence Model Report 
 
[2] According to the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), improving the building fabric energy efficiency of every building in the country in need of retrofit will require 12,000 workers to be trained every year for about the next four years, before the need to ramp up annual recruitment by up to 30,000 workers between years 2025 and 2030. This implies an increased trained workforce of up to 230,000 by the end of the decade - Construction Industry Training Board [CITB] (2021), Building skills for net zero 

[3] It is estimated that the UK could produce around 1.6 million EVs per year by 2040 and establish seven gigafactories in national territory. These gigafactories could create up to 78,000 new jobs (both direct and in the supply chain), with 24,500 in battery manufacturing, 43,500 in the battery supply chain, and around 10,000 in EV manufacturing – Faraday report – March 2020 update. Annual gigafactory study: UK electric vehicle and battery production potential to 2040
 
[4] Low carbon industrial clusters that could support the productions of low carbon industrial products such as steel, glass and chemicals could be developed in a wide range of locations such as South Wales, Merseyside, Teesside, the Humber and the Southampton area - Aldersgate Group (2021), Accelerating the Decarbonisation of Industrial Clusters and Dispersed Sites
 

[5] Aldersgate Group (2021), Net Zero Strategy Policy Tracker: Key Announcements and Next Steps

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Reactive comment on floating offshore wind innovation funding announcement

25th January 2022

Reacting to the UK Government's £31m floating offshore wind innovation funding announcement, Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group, said: “Following on from the significant amount of offshore wind projects selected at the ScotWind Leasing round last week [1], today’s announcement is a reminder of how long-term targets and stable policy support can accelerate innovation across the renewables industry. Building on the jobs already created by the offshore wind sector in areas such as Hull, the Solent and Scotland, the geographic spread of the projects receiving innovation funding today highlights that the renewables sector – and low carbon industries more broadly – can drive investment and job creation in multiple parts of the country and be a key part of the levelling up agenda.”

[1] Crown Estate Scotland, ScotWind offshore wind leasing delivers major boost to Scotland’s net zero aspirations

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Reactive comment on the UK's Third Climate Change Risk Assessment

17th January 2022

Responding to the publication of the UK’s Third Climate Change Risk Assessment, Signe Norberg, Head of Public Affairs and Communications at the Aldersgate Group, said: “The publication of the UK’s third climate change risk assessment is a clear reminder that unmitigated climate change comes with significant costs to the UK economy. The report rightly emphasises the need for urgent and co-ordinated action to both reduce emissions and adapt the UK’s economy and infrastructure to the levels of climate change we are already locked into. In practice, this means that the Government’s work on implementing the Net Zero Strategy, enacting long-term nature improvement targets under the Environment Act, and creating the next National Adaptation Plan all need to be carried out at pace and in a joined-up way.
 
Investing in a healthier natural environment is key to making the UK more resilient to the impacts of climate change and it will be critical that the Government puts forward ambitious and credible targets under the Environment Act as well as a new and comprehensive Environmental Improvement Plan later this year. The UK must also continue its efforts to deliver rapid emission reductions across the economy and beyond just the power sector. As set out in the Aldersgate Group’s Net Zero Strategy Policy Tracker, key policy gaps remain in crucial areas, such as energy efficiency, agriculture and land use, and skills. [1]
 
The Government is right to want to increase awareness of climate risk at the local level in future assessments but this ambition must be paired with further financial and policy support for local authorities, so they can play a significant role in tackling climate change.”
 
[1] The Aldersgate Group published its assessment of the UK’s Net Zero Strategy in October 2021. Click here to download the briefing. 

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We are recruiting! Senior Public Affairs Officer – maternity cover (12 months, shorter duration possible)

13th December 2021

We are looking for a highly motivated Senior Public Affairs Officer, under a fixed-term contract of 12 months for maternity cover, to help deliver the Aldersgate Group’s public affairs work, working closely with the policy team. There is a degree of flexibility and slightly shorter contract durations can be considered depending on an applicant’s circumstances.

This is an important time to be joining the Group and contributing to its public affairs work. Building on the momentum created by COP26 and other recent policy development, the Aldersgate Group will increasingly turn its focus to delivery in 2022 with a particular focus on driving the implementation of the Government’s Net Zero Strategy, the Environment Act and other government strategies on resources and waste, heat and buildings, industrial decarbonisation, transport and green finance. The Group will also increasingly focus on driving greater co-ordination across government departments on the delivery of key environmental and climate goals.

Please click the button on the right to download the full job description and person specification. 

To apply 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 9 am on Monday 10 January. 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 interviews (in person or virtual depending on circumstances) on week commencing 17 January.

The Aldersgate Group is a multicultural team. We are fully committed to equal opportunities, and we are actively seeking to increase the diversity of our workforce. We strongly encourage eligible candidates from Black, Asian, or other ethnic minority backgrounds, as well as candidates with disabilities, as they are currently under-represented in our workforce.


Climate Change Committee report on the outcomes of COP26: reactive statement

2nd December 2021

Reacting to the publication of the Climate Change Committee’s report on the key outcomes and next steps from COP26, Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group, said: “The Committee on Climate Change is right to argue that the best way for the UK to honour the Glasgow Climate Pact is to crack on with developing the policies and tax reforms needed to achieve its NDC and net zero target. The UK has set an ambitious national emission reduction pledge and comprehensive net zero strategy but the business community now needs to see more detailed policy measures being implemented in areas such as buildings, power, heavy industrial decarbonisation and land use to put the UK on a credible and timely pathway to meet its NDC and net zero target. [1] Implementing the UK’s Net Zero Strategy in earnest must now become a cross-government priority.”
 
Nick Molho added: “With the UK holding the COP Presidency for another year, it is also vital that the UK continues working with world leaders to significantly increase national emission reduction pledges in 2022 in line with a 1.5 degrees pathway, by providing clearer commitments on full coal phase out and end of fossil fuel subsidies and reaching a solution to deliver the minimum $100bn of climate finance pledged to developing countries.” [2]

[1] The Aldersgate Group published its assessment of the UK’s Net Zero Strategy in October 2021: https://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/asset/2019
 
[2] On 13 November 2021 the Aldersgate Group issued a reactive press release responding to the outcomes of COP26 – calling on world leaders to accelerate momentum on climate action: https://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/latest#cop26-moves-the-dial-towards-1-5c-but-momentum-must-increase-in-2022

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COP26 moves the dial towards 1.5C but momentum must increase in 2022

13th November 2021

Following the conclusion of the COP26 climate summit, the Aldersgate Group welcomes the important pledges made over the last two weeks in areas such as deforestation, methane, finance and innovation, the progress made on agreeing rules for international carbon markets, the clear next steps that have been identified in the Glasgow Climate Pact for all countries to increase their emission reduction pledges in 2022, and the commitment for countries to move away from the use of unabated coal and fossil fuel subsidies.
 
Recognising that much remains to be done to put the world economy on track for 1.5C, the Group calls on world leaders to accelerate momentum, by significantly increasing national emission reduction pledges in 2022, updating low carbon development plans, providing clearer commitments on full coal phase out and end of fossil fuel subsidies, and reaching a solution to deliver the minimum $100bn of climate finance pledged to developing countries.
 
The UK Government – which deserves praise for its efforts during the negotiations and which will retain the COP Presidency for another 12 months – must continue to drive progress in these critical areas of climate negotiations, whilst at the same time developing the policies needed to accelerate the UK economy’s own transition to net zero emissions.


The COP26 summit saw an unprecedented degree of business support for achieving a rapid shift to net zero emissions, with a growing number of sectors and businesses taking on new climate targets and some of the world’s largest financial institutions committing to align their investment portfolios with the 1.5C target under the Paris Agreement [1].
 
The summit also delivered some important pledges, with China and the United States agreeing close collaboration on climate action [2] and over 100 countries agreeing to end deforestation by 2030 [3] and cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030 [4]. Critically, the Glasgow Breakthroughs – which are supported by over 40 countries and aim to accelerate cost reductions and market deployment in renewable power, clean transport, hydrogen, green steel and sustainable agriculture – could have a significant impact on driving global private investment towards low carbon technologies [5].
 
The formal negotiations have delivered progress in some areas, most notably by introducing a requirement for all countries to submit more ambitious emission reduction pledges in 2022 to keep the 1.5C target alive, explicitly acknowledging for the first time the importance of national economies moving away from their dependence on fossil fuels and progressing rules on international carbon trading, despite some concerns remaining on the risk of double counting of credits. The Glasgow Climate Pact is also clear that developing economies urgently need to deliver the $100bn of annual climate finance pledged to developing economies and that this level of financial support will need to be increased.
 
However, whilst it has shifted the dial forward, the COP26 summit does not at this stage put the world on track for 1.5C, with many actions required in 2022 to close the emissions gap. Progress is urgently needed in areas such as the delivery of climate finance for developing countries, increasing investment in nature restoration and climate adaptation, the development of more ambitious national emission reduction pledges and low carbon strategies, and on a clear pathway to move away from fossil fuels, including a full phase-out from coal. 

Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Chair of the Aldersgate Group, said: “Despite many challenges, COP26 has delivered important progress, both in terms of the negotiations themselves but also through the meaningful pledges that governments, businesses and financial institutions have made over the summit. But we must recognise that much work remains to be done to put the world on track for the 1.5C target. Time is of the essence. Governments across the world must continue to work together to close the remaining gaps in ambition and with its Presidency of COP over the next 12 months, the UK Government has a vital role to play.”
 
Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “The business community – including many British businesses - turned up in force at COP26 and made clear its support for the 1.5C target and its intention to deliver a thriving, net zero emissions economy on the ground. Beyond its vital role on the global stage, the UK Government should build on this momentum by implementing its net zero strategy and driving much needed business investment in low carbon power, buildings, transport, industry and agriculture.”

Henrik Pedersen, CEO, ABP, said: “ABP welcomes the progress that has been made at COP26 in Glasgow. It is now essential that governments around the world - including here in the UK - maintain this momentum and accelerate the pace of policy development in the months ahead. The Clydebank Declaration on Green Shipping Corridors is a positive example of the collaboration between nations that will be required to drive decarbonisation in maritime and global trade. Around the world, maritime ports have a critical role to play in facilitating the decarbonisation of transport, industry and energy generation. In the UK, ABP’s ports stand ready to play their part in delivering these shared objectives.”

Peter Simpson, Chief Executive, Anglian Water and Co-Chair of the Corporate Leaders Group, said: “Since Paris the world has changed, in the severity of climate impacts we’ve seen but also in how loudly progressive businesses and society want governments to step up. It was obvious during my time in Glasgow that private enterprise is already deeply engaged in transformative climate action, and a wealth of green finance is there to be exploited. The water industry’s sector-wide commitment to net zero by 2030, 20 years ahead of the UK’s legally-binding target, is just one example of businesses leading the way. But we need governments to go further and faster more urgently, given what’s at stake.” 

Sue Riddlestone OBE, CEO & Co-founder, Bioregional, said: “Buildings are responsible for 40% of our carbon emissions, so it was significant to see more governments than ever before committing to cut emissions from the built environment in their Nationally Determined Contributions. And the fact that two-thirds of financial institutions have signed up to the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero will no doubt help much needed capital investment flow into sustainable buildings.
 
With COP drawing to a close, it is now crucial that we get on with delivery - working with Government to create a viable plan for the energy efficient retrofit of our homes, and to ensure that only net-zero carbon buildings are developed in the future.”

Gabrielle Ginér, Head of Environmental Sustainability, BT, said: “Despite COP26 coming to an end, the need for urgent climate action continues. While we welcome the launch of the Declaration on zero emission cars and vans which signals that we are turning a corner on road transport emissions, we need Governments and businesses across the world to do more. It’s time to commit to net zero, align to 1.5 degree Celsius science-based targets and set out clear and transparent implementation plans.”

Iain Patton, CEO, EAUC said: “It is exciting and a relief to see 1050 universities and colleges across the world committing to net-zero through the Race to Zero campaign of which EAUC is the global Secretariat. We also welcomed the draft strategy on sustainability and climate change from the Department of Education to support all education providers to be net-zero, to improve biodiversity and to obtain clear data on GHG emissions.

“We are delighted that Education Ministers from around the world were finally invited to COP26, but we still have much more to do. We need ALL universities and colleges around the world to commit to net-zero targets, and we need to get our own house in order to fully integrate climate education in the curriculum in the UK – it is clearly just not good enough to have a few hours in Geography or Science.

“Students and other young people are looking at us for leadership and we need to take bold steps to provide the skills and knowledge that young people will need to thrive. To quote the Italian Education Minister, Patrizio Bianchi, “everything starts with education and every career is a sustainable career".

Ece Ozdemiroglu, Founder, eftec: “From official negotiations to side events with NGOs, sector organisations, and investment managers, from the Blue Zone, and to the streets of Glasgow on the Global Day of Climate Justice march, COP26 was an exhilarating experience for me. If I had a word cloud for the event, ‘Climate Justice’ and ‘Just Transition’ would be the biggest phrases, both internationally and here in the UK.
 
The statements from the Heads of States are still not enough, but they are encouraging. We must and will continue to bring mitigation and adaptation closer, to help design the most useful role for the public sector, to provide evidence to mobilise more investment in nature, and to encourage everyone to see adaptation as an opportunity to create a healthier and happier society.”

Tim Anderson, Group Head of Transport, Energy Saving Trust, said: “Transport is the single biggest contributor to carbon emissions in the UK and accounts for around a quarter of all global emissions. We need strong policy commitments, practical support and incentives in place at national and international levels to decarbonise transport. We are motivated by the outcomes of COP26 including commitments to electrification, active travel incentives, as well as innovation to support the decarbonisation of rail, marine and aviation. There is significant work to be done to turn this ambition into action.”

Sarah Mukherjee MBE, CEO, IEMA, said: “Whilst I’ve been at COP I have witnessed some great discussions and campaigning for a good outcome to keep temperature rises below 1.5 degrees, but I and our IEMA members are worried that the outcomes of the negotiations won’t go far enough without more concrete plans from countries that are responsible for the highest levels of emissions.
 
There is an onus on those countries that have locked in ambitious emissions targets to continue to persuade those that have not done so to do likewise and therefore demonstrate real climate leadership, alongside a willingness to collaborate on solving this greatest of challenges. We must also continue to equip more people and organisations internationally with the right green skills to guide and lead real change for a sustainable future.”

Peter Jelkeby, Country Retail Manager and CSO, IKEA UK & Ireland, said: “COP26 was an historic opportunity to recommit the world to a 1.5 degree future, and as we emerge from the summit, at IKEA we’re clear that this remains the only way to deliver a more sustainable future. While we welcome the significant announcements made across COP26, governments and our leaders must now listen to the voices of the many people that were raised throughout the summit, including many thousands of inspirational young people to whom we must listen, learn from, and engage with. The UK Government must also recognise the demands for action from businesses and across society, and make good on their commitments and deliver the detailed pathways and policies we need to assemble a better and more sustainable future.”

Professor Martin Siegert, Co-Director of the Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College London, said: “My feeling is that it's been good to hear about the initiatives discussed and launched at COP26 but too early to yet say whether they will be meaningful or successful. Though I'm sceptical about some statements and pledges, ultimately the most important figure is the atmospheric CO2 concentration, and we'll only know whether COP26 has shifted that number in some years’ time. Looking back at the CO2 record from 2015 and afterwards it doesn't look like COP21 had much impact (yet), so while I welcome all the initiatives it may be that we'll need to substantially ramp up deliverable global actions if, in a few years, it turns out that COP26 has not led to in a noticeable shift in the CO2 level.”

Jon Khoo, Head of Sustainability (EAAA), Interface, said: “At COP26 we have discussed the urgency, now it is time to demonstrate agency. The business community is aware of the scale of the challenge we face with the climate crisis, and must now demonstrate its ingenuity, determination and willingness to act. Equally, we must ensure we’re listening to the youth activists, the scientists, and the diverse voices we have heard from at Glasgow. For a pledge is a promise, reducing GHG emissions will be a fact.  
 
It was pleasing to see the built environment and construction take an important role on the penultimate day of COP26 as our industry is connected with up to 40% of global carbon emissions. With this in mind, tackling both operational and embodied carbon emissions must remain a key focus for every nation’s journey to net zero. Finally, we were encouraged by the progress of Race to Zero campaign and increased use of Science-Based Targets as basis for credible action by businesses.”

Simon Winch, Sustainability & Ethics Lead on Environment, John Lewis Partnership, said: “COP26 has been a vital opportunity for world leaders to come together to discuss how we accelerate action towards the goals set out by the Paris Agreement and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. We are absolutely committed to that ambition and recognise the important role the retail industry has in supporting its goals. This is why we are working hard to establish our science-based targets in line with the 1.5°C pathway, which will build on our existing 2035 net zero commitments. We won't solve the climate crisis alone or overnight but we recognise that the time for talking is over and we are prepared to take bold action to ensure we're part of the solution."

Caroline Laurie, Director of Responsible Business, Kingfisher, said: “Now is the time for us all to take action and we know we all have more to do however, COP26 has delivered important progress through the pledges, initiatives and negotiation progress that has been achieved. Continued momentum is essential to put the world economy on track for 1.5C, both in terms of global negotiations, and in terms of national climate policy.
 
From a UK business perspective, one of the most impactful steps we have seen come out of COP is the requirement for listed companies to publish net zero transition plans that align with the UK’s net zero target. This will not only help accelerate actions to decarbonise the economy but will also address concerns over greenwashing. However, the commitment could be made stronger by broadening its application to all large companies.”

Simon Virley, Vice Chair and Head of Energy and Natural Resource, KPMG UK, said: “While the debate has already begun about whether COP26 has been a success or a failure, the truth is it’s somewhere in between. Progress was made in a number of areas: initiatives like GFANZ that has mobilised $130 trillion of ‘net zero’ global capital and the ‘Glasgow Breakthroughs’ on clean tech are welcome, as are the agreements on reforestation, cutting methane, phasing out coal and the take-up of EVs. But, even with these measures, the world is definitely not on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.
 
“One very big and welcome shift has been the much greater involvement of the business and finance community at COP26. In Glasgow there was evidence of more of a ‘bottom-up’ approach, with businesses taking the initiative on developing plans for Net Zero and not waiting for governments to act. COP26 is best viewed not in isolation but as part of an ongoing, global process of negotiations and initiatives to reduce climate change, one that continues next year at COP27.”

Nigel Wilson, Group CEO, Legal & General, said: “In the two weeks of COP26 the world is ever more convinced of the imperative on action and delivery. Debate is not enough. The challenges and deliverables agreed in Glasgow on how we tackle climate reflects that this is not only the most urgent issue but also the biggest investment opportunity of our lifetimes. We can harness the power of business and markets to make sure that the transition happens. That is why our roadmap to net zero focuses on funding the transition to support a low carbon future and deliver secure returns. That is why we are investing in renewable energy, and we have actionable climate plans in place across our major business areas including investments, housing and commercial property.”

Daniel Johns, Chair of the National Flood Forum and Director at the Aldersgate Group: “COP26 has focussed attention on critical areas of climate action like never before. Adaptation, nature and water have finally had the focus they deserve. Yet despite that welcome shift, we are still not where we need to be in the races to net zero and resilience, especially in preparing for flooding, sea level rise and increasing water scarcity. If anything, COP26 has highlighted just how far governments are now lagging behind where businesses and the public want them to be in preparing the country for climate change.”

Duncan Burt, Chief Sustainability Officer at National Grid, said: “COP26 has set us on a trajectory where we can conquer climate change but we are just at the beginning of a vast effort to deliver and exceed the promises that we have made. There remains much still to do but Glasgow’s COP26 has moved us firmly forward, bringing us with the margin of error of 2C warming. Many of the major building blocks of a climate friendly future are understood and now simply need to be built: zero carbon electricity supply, electric vehicles and charging infrastructure are all underway in the US, UK and around the world. But more needs to be done to demonstrate that richer nations will play their part on leading the global transition: richer nations should go faster and ensure the financial commitments to support the global transition are met.
 
We are working to deliver zero carbon energy for our communities and to help accelerate the transition. We are working globally to enable the wider transition through initiatives such as GGI-OSOWOG.  We must now move at speed to seize the opportunity to limit warming below 2C and keep 1.5C in sight.”

Greg Jackson, Founder and CEO, Octopus Energy Group, said: "COP26 was a great chance for business leaders, governments and activists around the world to come together to work towards a green, clean future, and Octopus Energy are delighted to have used its galvanizing influence to announce a flurry of agreements to bring our technology and wind turbines to even more countries, turbocharging the green energy revolution around the world. But, before we all pat ourselves on the back, COP26 also shed light on the fact that we still have a long way to go.
 
Octopus Energy recently secured funding from Al Gore founded Generation Investment Management and we'll continue to use it as fuel for our global green mission. But please, we ask of you all - we have the tools to make green energy the cheapest energy for everyone, let's not waste any more time in weaning ourselves off dirty fossil fuels for good."

Gavin Templeton, Partner, Pollination, said: “It remains to be seen whether COP26 will be judged as a success or a missed opportunity but the stark warnings from the IPCC climate change report appear to have shifted momentum in the debate. Decisive action has been taken on halting deforestation, cutting methane emissions and the phasing out of coal-fuelled power plants and India’s engagement with the net zero target must surely be viewed as a diplomatic win. It is clear the transition to a low-carbon economy will require a reframing of the global economy, radical thinking, and breakthrough ideas so it is fitting that natural capital finally took centre stage and $130trillion of private capital has been directed to decarbonisation. GFANZ has laid down the gauntlet to policy makers and public sector financiers so will they step up to the plate? The time for talking is over and we now need concrete measures to accelerate the transition towards net zero.”

Philippa Spence, Managing Director, Ramboll UK, said: "COP26 has delivered progress but fallen short on securing our 1.5-degree future. I urge businesses and authorities to prioritise adaptation and resilience measures, whilst accelerating the pace of decarbonisation. The solutions to do so exist here and now, but must be strengthened with changed leadership behaviours and the willingness to adopt low-carbon business models. The private sector can lead the green transition, but it will take bravery. We must be open to leaving the tried-and-tested behind, and acknowledge that some of the challenges are not as hard we think!”

Keith Anderson, CEO, ScottishPower, said: “It’s fair to say that Glasgow has never experienced anything quite like COP – it has energised civic society and brought commitments from business ranging from the car manufacturers to the finance sector to take action to address the climate emergency. 
 
“From our headquarters in Glasgow, at ScottishPower we’re proud to be playing our part in the green transformation.  Speeding up the journey to a greener future is at the heart of everything we do. We were the first large energy company in the UK to generate the 100% Green electricity - closing our coal plants, ditching gas, and focusing entirely on green generation and investing in the grid to bring on even more renewables. All of our investments – £10 billion in the next 4 years – are determined through the prism of Net Zero.
 
“What we’ve seen over the past two weeks are the building blocks being laid for the Net Zero transition, with enduring commitments on coal, methane, forestry and transport. On their own they may not be enough, but together they begin to build momentum. My expectation is that COP26 will prove to be the springboard for faster action and greater ambition. Reflecting on a momentous fortnight, what really brought home the significance of COP to me was seeing the thousands of people – of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities – coming together to march for change last weekend. Coming past our building, which is decked out in the global warming stripes along its base, it was clear to me that the message really was very simple: do more, do it now, do it faster, do it for them.”

Carl Ennis, Chief Executive Officer, Siemens plc, said: “Measure of the success of the COP negotiations must be more nuanced than simply the ultimate target. Net zero, with net benefits, is a journey, and whilst the discussions in Glasgow may not have detailed all the steps required, I believe that we should focus our efforts on delivering what we can do right here, right now. Business is ready to play its part.”

Meg Baker, Director of Education, SOS-UK, said: “We welcome the progress being made to connect the climate crisis with the role of education as a key enabler for change. At COP26 we saw the first ever convening of Education and Environment Ministers as part of the presidency programme which is a positive step in the right direction. From this a number of nations have made meaningful commitments to embed climate and sustainability into education policy, including the UK Department for Education who used the event to launch their draft Climate and Sustainability strategy. The strategy includes a strong focus on training and skills as well as integration into STEM subjects which are all absolutely crucial, for an even more ambitious strategy we are calling for this to cover all subject areas to break the current silos we are seeing in education.”

John Scanlon, Chief Executive Officer, SUEZ recycling and recover UK, said: “Although frustrated by the absence of waste and resources on the agenda at COP26 before the conference began, two weeks on I am more upbeat – it was there, time and again, woven through and embedded in speeches by high profile figures from across the globe, indicating the pivotal role resource efficiency plays in meeting our emission reduction pledges. With the Environment Act passing into law this week, the path is clear for the reforms needed to transform our take, make and dispose culture to a more circular economy and we stand ready to work with our partners across the value chain to make resource efficiency a reality.”

Giles Bolton, Responsible Sourcing Director, Tesco, said: “We are encouraged by a number of the agreements secured at COP26, notably in areas such as eliminating deforestation and reducing potent methane levels by 30%, both by 2030. We look forward to supporting the implementation of these initiatives. Delivering low carbon economies and net zero commitments requires everyone to play their part, facilitated by targeted investment. Earlier this year we announced our own commitment of achieving net zero across our entire value chain by 2050, in line with a 1.5C trajectory. We welcome the announcement of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero to deliver more than $130 trillion in financing to transition global economies by 2050.
 
We hope COP26 will lead to continued ambitious action, both from governments and businesses and that the UK will accelerate its transition to net zero emissions. We have no more time to waste in this important decade of action.”

Maria Connolly, Partner and Head of Clean Energy, TLT LLP, said: “Collaboration will continue to be key even after COP26 is over, but it’s extremely encouraging to have seen so many organisations coming together over the last couple of weeks to make global pledges. In particular, the launch of The Adaptation Research Alliance was a hugely positive step towards creating affordable low carbon technologies. However, it was slightly discouraging to see only a small number of countries signing up to the policy declaration on the transition to zero emission vehicles, with some of the world’s largest auto markets staying on the side-line. Currently private sector investment is driving the change in this market and we’re seeing creative new joint-ventures and deals come about to deliver record numbers of EV charging stations. While there’s still much to be done, we can be encouraged that the progress made over the last week or so will surely go some way in helping all nations reach their net zero goals.”
 
Bevis Watts, CEO, Triodos Bank UK, said: “Triodos Bank welcomes the inclusion of dedicated discussion on the role of finance in the COP26 programme, and the creation of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ). Having called repeatedly for net zero transition plans to be made mandatory, we see the announcement that UK financial institutions will be required to produce such plans on a ‘comply or explain’ basis as a step in the right direction. It is critical that the standards developed for such plans are robust, science-based and aligned to 1.5-degree scenarios.
 
However, more action is needed. We call for an end to investment in fossil fuel expansion and exploration, for robust carbon pricing that truly reflects its social and environmental cost and for fossil fuel subsidies to be systematically dismantled.  And we ask that the financial sector be regulated not only in line with the potential risks and opportunities that arise from climate change, but also with recognition of its role in the causes of this crisis. If we want a net zero society and economy, we need to regulate for a net zero financial sector.”

Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive, UK Green Building Council, said: “We needed this COP to deliver global commitments to limit temperature rises to 1.5C and whilst it is far from perfect, the Glasgow Climate Pact is a step in the right direction but far more still needs to be done.

Important progress for our sector has been achieved through initiatives which will help drive the decarbonisation of key construction materials. Likewise, we have also seen a powerful drive on steering private financial capital towards low-carbon investment, with welcome initiatives targeting disclosure, credibility and transparency.  However, much of the momentum has come from the market with a multitude of impactful global climate action initiatives announced by the Building to COP Coalition, Race to Zero and World GBC. 

As we look to move from pledges to action, especially here at home, the launch of UKGBC’s Whole Life Carbon Roadmap for the UK Built Environment marks a significant milestone. Co-produced and supported by key industry organisations, it sets out a clear pathway of the policies and stakeholder actions we need to reach net zero moving forwards.  With forthright action lacking at the COP26 negotiating table, it's now even more important to deliver measurable action through implementing the Roadmap here in the UK.”

Colin Skellett, Group Chief Executive, Wessex Water said: “The fallout from COP26 will continue to be picked over in the months ahead. Irrespective of the global outlook, UK business is primed to play its part and needs long-term certainty from government and regulators. Coming away from COP26, we need an ongoing strong commitment from the government to deliver Net Zero in partnership with the private sector as part of its wider environmental goals. This should include mechanisms and incentives to attract private investment in new technologies and nature-based solutions to decarbonize our supply chains.”

Rick Willmott, Group Chief Executive, Willmott Dixon, said: “We welcome the leadership demonstrated by the UK government at COP26 and are delighted that many world economies and large companies have like Willmott Dixon committed to a net zero transition pathway aligned to 1.5C. We now urge others to join us in turning their commitments into action to deliver a world fit for future generations. It really is Now Or Never.”
 
Darren Moorcroft, CEO, Woodland Trust, said: "At COP26 it has become clearer than ever that we must urgently drive down emissions and do all that we can to ensure that staying within 1.5 degrees stays alive. The stakes could not be higher. Life depends on it and that requires leadership which extends way beyond Glasgow and enables everyone to play their part to the full.
 
Another powerful message emanating from COP 26 is that restoring nature is central to tackling the climate crisis and that they are two sides of the same coin. Post COP, we must protect and expand vital habitats such as woodland with a renewed energy and sense of purpose both at home and abroad. The UK's desire to lead on climate must not end with the Glasgow conference. Instead, we need the Government be a loud voice on the international stage while implementing the Net Zero strategy at home by seeking out every opportunity to do more and faster for nature and climate together."

David Symons, UK Director of Sustainability, WSP said: “COP26 has to be viewed as a success. National carbon commitments are at the higher end of expectations and there’s been many standout pledges from decarbonising transport to halting deforestation. These all support WSP’s goal of halving the carbon of our designs and advice by 2030. But perhaps most important is the leadership that chairing COP26 has brought to the UK. For the first time we have a clear, long term national Net Zero Strategy which sets out clear plans. The UK’s Net Zero Strategy, the new Environment Act, and the global commitments made during COP26 are warmly welcomed, and need now to be implemented at scale, at pace and in full.”

- FOOTNOTES -

[1] Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (November 2021) Amount of finance committed to achieving 1.5C now at scale needed to deliver the transition

[2] BBC News (November 2021) COP26: China and US agree to boost climate co-operation
 
[3] BBC News (November 2021) COP26: World leaders promise to end deforestation by 2030
 
[4] BBC News (November 2021) COP26:US and EU announce global pledge to slash methane
 
[5] COP26 (November 2021) Breakthrough agenda – launching an annual global checkpoint

COP26

Environment Act becomes law: reactive statement

9th November 2021

Reacting to the Environment Bill becoming law, Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group, said: “The passage of the Environment Act into law marks a major milestone for the UK, particularly as it hosts the important COP26 climate summit. Having a framework which supports nature restoration and looks at the whole of the environment – including land as well as sea – is a key step forward in efforts to reverse the decline of nature. Businesses have long supported an ambitious and robust Environment Act, and having legally binding long-term targets will play a significant role in making continuous improvements to the natural environment.”
 
Nick Molho added:
“Going forward, our collective attention should turn to delivering the ambition of the Environment Act on the ground. The forthcoming consultation on the development of the long-term targets must deliver ambitious targets that reflect the urgency and scale of nature restoration required. Similarly, it will be important to ensure that the new Office for Environmental Protection is able to carry out its function of holding the Government and public bodies to account, and that there are strong and credible interim targets in place to support short-term delivery. Finally, to be delivered effectively and affordably, the targets of the Environment Act must be embedded across government policy in areas such as planning and agriculture.”

NAture

Proposal to set up an independent expert panel to review net zero targets important to ensure a strong baseline and level playing field for business

8th November 2021

Reacting to the United Nations Secretary General's proposal to set up an independent expert panel to review net zero targets, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “In the run up to COP26, an increasing number of businesses have recognised the commercial and moral imperative of playing their part to tackle climate change, and have taken on net zero emissions targets. This is welcome. But it is important that there is a strong baseline and level playing field in place that allows investors, businesses, consumers and the public to independently assess the credibility of different commitments and the progress that individual businesses are making to meet them.

Nick Molho added: Ensuring that net zero emissions targets, and the plans to achieve them, are based on scientific, transparent and comparable criteria is not only key to building public and consumer trust, it is also essential to guide investment decisions. An increasing number of investors want to grow their investment in low-carbon technologies, infrastructure and services, and to do so, they need to have a clear picture of businesses’ climate commitments. So, as a business organisation that has always stood for robust targets and disclosure requirements, the Aldersgate Group supports the UN Secretary General António Guterres’ proposal to set up an independent UN-led expert panel to provide recommendations on the most credible ways in which businesses should set net zero targets.

Nick Molho concluded: To be effective, an independent UN panel should build on the most credible target setting frameworks that exist already, such as the Science-Based Target Initiative, as a lot of work has already gone into identifying what constitutes robust, science-based criteria. Providing independent recommendations and guidance on how businesses should develop their net zero transition plans and report on the progress they are making against their targets would also be welcome.”

COP26

Strong action as over half of FTSE100 companies commit to tackle climate change

4th November 2021

Responding to the announcement that over half of FTSE100 companies are now committed to eliminating their contribution to climate change by 2050, Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group, said: “The fact that 60% of the FTSE100 has signed up to the Race to Zero shows that businesses in multiple sectors of the economy are already well engaged in the transition to net zero emissions. This is also not just about large businesses - many SMEs are taking action as well. There is much that the business community can do to support the move to net zero, including setting ambitious targets, backing these up with credible delivery plans and crucially requiring their supply chains to drive down their own emissions. However, businesses need the support of stable and long-term policies to help them get to net zero and this will be particularly key in areas such as heavy industry and agriculture, where cutting emissions is particularly complex.”

Formatted London

Welcome net zero transition plans must be underpinned by international carbon pricing and markets

3rd November 2021

In the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s speech to COP26 today, he announced plans to make London the world’s first net zero-aligned financial centre by mandating the publication of transition plans to reach net zero for financial institutions and listed companies.

Reacting to the announcement, Josie Murdoch, Senior Policy Officer at the Aldersgate Group, said: “This marks a huge step forward on aligning financial flows with the ambition of the Paris Agreement and limiting warming to 1.5 degrees. The announcement builds on the existing requirements in the UK for companies to publish their climate-related financial disclosures, which outline the risk climate change poses to their business operations, and follows a major call for mandating net zero transition plans from many Aldersgate Group members and FTSE 100 companies, including BT, Kingfisher and Tesco, and financial institutions such as Aviva, Legal & General Investment Management and Santander. It will now be vital for the Government to work closely with the business and finance communities to give them the support, guidance and time needed to implement these new requirements.
 
The Chancellor’s announcement also follows the news last night that the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero – an alliance made up of more than 450 banks, insurers and asset managers across 45 countries – is poised to deliver $100 trillion of investment over the next thirty years. Domestically, it is estimated £50 billion of additional investment will be required by 2030, in the UK alone, to put us on track to deliver net zero by 2050. Internationally, estimates have been put at US$100-150 trillion. These new announcements put delivery of these investment requirements within reach. It is critical that the UK now uses the remainder of the summit to encourage more countries to adopt mandatory climate-related financial disclosures – to date, 35 countries have committed to this – and introduce regulation on net zero transition plans."
 
Josie Murdoch added: “These pledges must not be seen as the silver bullet to delivering a net zero-aligned global financial system. We now need supporting policies, such as a strengthened carbon price to reflect the real economic cost of emitting carbon into the atmosphere, and world leaders must agree the rulebook for Article 6 of the Paris Agreement and establish a credible global carbon market. These measures will further ensure financing is flowing into the low carbon technologies and infrastructure needed to meet net zero by 2050.”

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