The Aldersgate Group hosted an event in partnership with the Trillion Fund in the run-up to the G8 summit to discuss the opportunities for transforming our present energy infrastructure to one that is low carbon.
World leaders may have taken climate change off the G8 agenda, but investing in a clean energy future remains a priority for business and society. This event discussed the huge economic opportunities for updating our models of energy generation, supply and ownership.
The lively debate included a panel of expert speakers including Vivienne Westwood (Vivienne Westwood Ltd), Greg Barker (Minister for Energy & Climate Change), Amory Lovins (Rocky Mountain Institute), Zoe Williams (Guardian) and Yvo de Boer (KPMG) among others.
The Aldersgate Group (AG) have welcomed a new report by the RSA on the first six months of the Great Recovery project which investigates the role of design in the circular economy. As part of the project, the AG hosted a tear down workshop at the RSA with leading businesses to observe, debate, tear apart, re-build and co-create a wide variety of products.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the AG, said: "we welcome this report's emphasis on developing skills, facilitating collaboration and pushing policy. The businesses who joined us to tear down consumer products into their individual components were clear that design lies at the heart of new business models that eliminate waste. We look forward to continuing to work with leading businesses to explore innovative briefs that incorporate resource efficiency and closed loop principles at the outset."
The Aldersgate Group and its business members are encouraged to see how many MPs recognise that a 2030 decarbonisation target is essential for driving investment and economic growth.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “Today’s Energy Bill debate in the House of Commons revealed growing momentum behind the target – including among Conservative backbench MPs who defended constituents’ interests in the face of party whips. Just 12 more votes would have secured the carbon free power sector that businesses have been calling for. This provides growing impetus as the debate moves to the House of Lords in a few weeks time."
Two of the UK’s leading business and investor associations, the Aldersgate Group (AG) and the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF), jointly call today on MPs to vote in favour of a target in the Energy Bill that would commit the UK to a near carbon free power sector by 2030.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the AG, told the Guardian: "Businesses and investors have been loud and clear that such a target would not only reduce costs but provide greater certainty for companies to invest in the development of UK supply chains and jobs. It's a pro-growth and pro-deficit reduction strategy."
Simon Howard, Chief Executive of UKSIF, said: "There is significant investor appetite for the UK to be a global leader in profitable low carbon energy solutions, providing the high quality innovation and jobs that the country needs to ensure a future economic recovery. We call on MPs to recognise this and vote in favour of enshrining the 2030 decarbonisation target in the bill."
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, has said that UK businesses are concerned that a gas-heavy power system would increase exposure to price volatility and energy insecurity.
Speaking at the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum on the role of gas in the UK's electricity market, he said: "it is impossible to accurately predict the price of future energy technologies as it depends on so many variable factors, such as the global supply and demand for gas, the costs of carbon capture technology at scale and learning rates for renewable technologies."
"The challenge for Government is to manage unavoidable uncertainties and hedge against the risk of policy failure. Analysis by E3G demonstrates that if CCS is more expensive than predicted, or we under-deliver on energy efficiency, we might be forced to choose between affordable or low carbon energy further down the line. The costs of a gas intensive power sector in these scenarios could be up to 98% higher."
Responding to an article by Martin Wolf in the Financial Times on "why the world faces climate chaos", Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said that "there is an alternative to watching the rise of greenhouse gases until it is too late".
In a letter published in the FT on 17th May, Mr Raingold argued that the technologies are available to meet the climate chaos challenge. He said: "analysis from a number of internationally respected organisations, such as the International Energy Agency, demonstrate that the technical challenges of scale and cost reduction can be reasonably circumvented to address energy security, economic development, climate change and universal access to modern energy services. This can be unlocked through active political and business leadership around a sellable vision of a prosperous low carbon economy that Mr Wolf describes, rather than waiting until after the event."
AG member Tim Yeo MP, Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, has urged the Government to clarify key Energy Bill details before the summer recess or risk months of stalled energy investment. This includes how the capacity mechanism will work, confirm the strike prices that will be available through the CfD regime for different technologies, successfully conclude the long-running nuclear negotiations, and adopt the amendment for a decarbonisation target for the power sector.
He told Business Green: "There's been widespread support for the (2030 decarbonisation) target, and not just from the usual suspects. We've seen business groups with broad support, such as the Aldersgate Group and the Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change, supporting the proposal - it is not confined to those businesses with a direct interest in the [clean energy] supply chain."
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said that businesses increasingly recognise that they have to act decisively to prevent an impending resource crunch.
Chairing the Resource Scarcity and The Circular Economy Conference for Sustainable Business Magazine, he said "We have heard from our speakers today that the resource crunch is not just a major risk for businesses, but also can be a net creator of jobs and growth. The fact that 43% of businesses recognise that they have to revise their product and service offerings, as demonstrated by the presentation by Tom Delay from the Carbon Trust, shows that corporate leaders are slowly waking up to this issue."
"The speakers today have also emphasised the need for collaboration and partnerships. The resource revolution challenge requires system level change and can rarely by addressed effectively by actors in isolation. That includes a strong and proactive role for Government."
Baroness Northover, the Government's Lords Spokesperson on international development, supported a new initiative by the Aldersgate Group and CDKN on business partnerships for climate compatible development.
She said at the launch event: "We must work in parallel to the international climate negotiations to demonstrate that low carbon and climate resilient projects are viable and desirable. And this presents all of us with opportunities as well as challenges.
The public and private sectors must work together to help communities and countries of debt adapt to the impacts of climate change that we cannot avoid, support countries to prosper and grow in ways that reduce carbon emissions, and forge a stronger and more climate resilient global economy...and that is why working with the private sector is at the heart of the Government’s approach."
Andrew Stunnell has become the latest MP to sign an amendment to the Energy Bill, introducing a 2030 carbon target for the power sector. His signature brings the total number of Lib Dems to 9, who – along with 4 Conservatives – have confirmed that they are willing to vote against the Government to secure a low carbon energy future for the UK.
The Aldersgate Group and its members wrote to the Chancellor last year, setting out why a 2030 power sector carbon target is essential for growth. Since then, the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s impact assessment has shown that early power sector decarbonisation results in a net benefit to the economy of £4.5-7.8bn.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, responding to proposals to remove climate change from the national curriculum for under 14-year-olds, said: "Dropping climate change from the curriculum is indefensible and arcane. Education must prepare the next generation for the pressing challenges that they will face if they are to have any chance of securing their future prosperity.
Many chief executives are currently working in partnership with Government to strengthen the skill needs to address the risks and opportunities of a resource constrained world. The curriculum proposals are in direct conflict with future skill requirements and pressing business needs."
Mr Raingold has signed a petition to Michael Gove to "Keep Climate Change in the Curriculum" by 15 year old Esha Marwaha from Hounslow.
In response to the 2013 Budget, Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, told the BBC, Guardian and Guardian Business: "The Chancellor has prioritised increasing exports to the fast growing regions of the world but there is little support in the budget for green industries that have a strong foothold in these markets and a trade surplus of £5 billion. Rather than tax breaks for shale gas, the UK needs a clear regulatory framework that will drive investment and export opportunities for low carbon technologies."
Aldersgate Group member Nathan Goode, partner and head of energy, environment and sustainability at Grant Thornton UK, told the Guardian: "The budget statement confirms that the current focus of this government's energy investment strategy is perpetuating the use of fossil fuels rather than investing further in alternatives, with measures to support shale gas exploration and the development of two carbon capture and storage projects."
The Aldersgate Group has written to MPs on behalf of leading UK companies to bring forward the 2030 decarbonisation target and support an amendment to the Energy Bill tabled by AG member Tim Yeo MP and Barry Gardiner MP.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: "Today’s uncertainty about the UK’s energy future is undermining private investment in vital infrastructure and wider economic growth. Prolonging this strategic uncertainty until 2016 and making it subject to the outcome of the next election risks creating a 3 year hiatus in investment and causing the UK to lose competitiveness in low-carbon energy supply chains. That is why leading UK businesses are supporting an amendment to the Energy Bill to ensure the economy is not locked into increasingly expensive and volatile high-carbon energy."
The Ecosystem Markets Task Force (EMTF) has published its Final Report, making the business case for why nature matters. It finds that business is often unaware of its true reliance on nature and a new way of looking at nature will create innovation and mitigate risk. It recommends interventions which would help create new markets, enhance opportunities for growth and also benefit the environment.
Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group and a member of the Task Force said: "The report demonstrates the significant benefits that can be achieved for business and the natural environment through integrated thinking. The Aldersgate Group agrees that safeguarding the quality of our natural environment, will benefit our economic performance."
In November 2011 the Aldersgate Group published its report, Pricing the Priceless, which found that incorporating the value of nature into decision-making will be vital to safeguard long-term economic growth.
The Aldersgate Group has written to the Financial Times following revelations that the Treasury has blocked a review on resource depletion, climate change and growth that had the support across Whitehall departments.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: "By blocking this review, the Treasury is damaging future growth prospects. Rising and volatile commodity prices are having a material impact on business. An independent analysis on how these major trends effect UK competitiveness is widely supported by business leaders and across Government departments. The Chancellor must address resource risks urgently to build a more resilient economy that exports the solutions to global challenges."
4th March 2013
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, spoke at the launch of the Green Book at the Houses of Parliament. The book proposes innovative new directions for the Liberal Democrats to put the environment at the heart of the economy.
He said: "Nick Clegg is absolutely right to say in the foreword that green policies are of crucial importance to economic recovery and a central component of a stronger economy. Not only is this vital in the short-term, providing 10 per cent of UK GDP, but also in the long-term. Trends in the global economy are moving decisively away from Britain and the book outlines a number of effective proposals for how regulation, taxation and other policy levers could be a pillar of future growth that all political parties should take note of."
The Aldersgate Group have supported the Climate Week Declaration alongside Lord Nick Stern, the TUC and a number of businesses. It calls on the Government to maintain its commitment to the Climate Change Act and introduce a 2030 decarbonisation target in the Energy Bill.
Household energy bills will be about £600 higher per year in the coming decades if the UK relies increasingly on gas, according to the Committee on Climate Change.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, told the Guardian: "The implication of the committee's report is absolutely clear: investment in a portfolio of low carbon technologies provides a vital hedge against the prospect of high gas prices in the future. By contrast, the option for a large-scale shift towards unabated gas-generation in the government's recent gas strategy poses a massive risk to the UK's future growth.
Businesses have repeatedly warned about the economic cost of locking the UK into high imported fossil fuel dependency: rising and volatile energy prices, serious concerns about security of supply, and a missed opportunity to build up UK supply chains."
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director from the Aldersgate Group, told Parliament Magazine's Brussels Briefing Live conference that the UK's 2020 renewable energy target is challenging but achievable.
He said: "analysis by the AEA consultancy and the Government's independent advisors demonstrate that the UK's target of generating 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 is achievable. However, there is little room for complacency. Policy uncertainty and mixed messages from Government means that the UK is not keeping up with faster growing international markets in the race for global investment."
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, told the Guardian: “If the Chancellor’s Autumn statement is intended to heal the UK economy, the gas strategy is a route that will lead us straight back to economic decline". David Kennedy, the Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change, stated that the scenario for building 40 new gas plants was "completely incompatible" with climate change targets.
According to Mr Raingold, such a strategy “undermines investment and jobs, and will raise the capital cost of renewing our energy infrastructure: a cost that will be passed straight onto the bills of businesses and consumers. Businesses have repeatedly warned the Chancellor about the economic cost of locking the UK into high imported fossil fuel dependency: rising and volatile energy prices, serious concerns about security of supply, and a missed opportunity to build up UK supply chains. Already households are paying £70 per year directly to Qatar for imported gas – money we could be keeping in the UK economy by investing in renewables on our soil."