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Budget 2020: A greener budget than its predecessors but more coherent approach needed

11th March 2020

Reacting to the Budget statement presented to Parliament by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “Today’s budget announcement devoted more time to the environment and climate change than many of its predecessors. It contained some welcome announcements on nature, urban transport, the move towards electric vehicles and a much-needed scaling up of innovation support for industrial decarbonisation and carbon capture storage. The multi-year funding support for eight mayoral combined authorities and investment in the Cities Transformation Fund are particularly welcome as local bodies are best placed to deliver improvements in public transport that will help reduce car journeys.[1]”
 
Nick Molho added: “Many gaps still remain to put the UK on track for net zero emissions, such as improving the energy efficiency of the building stock, developing an integrated low carbon transport strategy in line with the lessons from the recent Heathrow ruling, and creating a national low carbon skills strategy to support the workforce. To close these gaps, ensure policy coherence and put the UK credibly on track for its target, the government should build on today’s announcements and publish a net zero delivery plan well ahead of COP26."
 
Nick Molho concluded: “The Chancellor’s announcement on nature restoration is welcome but should be complemented by strengthening the target setting process in the Environment Bill, which has a key role to play in delivering meaningful and long-term environmental improvements, improving the UK’s resilience to climate change and providing cost-effective negative emissions.”

—ENDS—
 
[1] The Aldersgate Group published a comprehensive report, Shifting Emissions into Reverse Gear, on how to cut road transport emissions in March 2019: https://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/latest/page:2#system-wide-approach-key-to-cut-transport-emissions

PARLI

EU sets pathway to climate neutrality: welcome direction but short term ambition must be strengthened

4th March 2020

Responding to the proposal of the European Climate Law earlier today, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said “As a cross-economy organisation with business members eager to invest in the EU’s climate resilient and low carbon infrastructure, we are pleased to see the EU Commission’s proposal to enshrine the objective of climate neutrality by 2050 into law as part of President Von der Leyen’s European Green Deal. This law has a crucial role to play in providing businesses with a clear trajectory and sense of direction for future policies.”
 
Nick Molho added “To be credible in the eyes of other world leaders ahead of COP26 and support cost-effective investment and supply chain growth, the Climate Law must be accompanied as soon as possible by a more ambitious target for 2030, which must act as a credible stepping stone towards the 2050 target. It is also essential for European businesses that stronger ambitions come hand in hand with concrete policies to accelerate low carbon investment and innovation in buildings, transport, energy and industry.”

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The Environment Bill returns to Parliament for second reading

21st February 2020

Ahead of the second reading of the Environment Bill on Wednesday 26 February, the Aldersgate Group has published its briefing on the key changes it wishes to see. The Environment Bill is a vital opportunity to establish a new, ambitious and robust governance framework that protects and enhances the natural environment. Businesses fully support the strong enforcement of environmental law and the protection of the natural environment as a healthy environment is essential to a competitive economy - with most business models being reliant in one way or another on natural assets.

To realise the government’s ambition of having “the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth”, the Aldersgate Group highlights three changes that would make the Bills stronger from a business perspective:

  • The target-setting framework needs to be strengthened. For businesses to have confidence in the target-setting process, the Bill needs to be more explicit about the ambition of future targets, the criteria that will be used to determine the targets and how they will work together to deliver the desired environmental improvements. This will help to ensure that future long-term targets deliver coherent environmental improvements in all priority areas.
  • Businesses need greater clarity on actions in the near-term to put the country on track to meet the targets. Legally binding targets are important but taking action in the near future will determine whether the UK will be on track to deliver these objectives. Consequently, for long-term targets to be seen by businesses as credible and investible, there needs to be confidence that successive governments will take sustained, regular action to deliver these targets. This allows businesses to have confidence that the interim targets will genuinely drive government action and that remedial policy action will be taken, should it appear that interim targets will be missed.
  • The Environment Bill needs to provide confidence that there will be a level playing field in delivering the ambitious environmental improvement targets. Having an independent and well-resourced watchdog with effective enforcement powers is essential to the proper application of environmental law and to the creation of a level playing field for business. The Bill therefore needs to set out a formal role for the relevant parliamentary committee in approving the Chair of the OEP, akin to the role of the Treasury Select Committee in the process to confirm the appointment of the Chair of the Office for Budget Responsibility.
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Government reshuffle: Successful COP26 and clean growth need to be at the forefront of the government’s priorities

13th February 2020

Reacting to today’s government reshuffle, Signe Norberg, Public Affairs Manager of the Aldersgate Group, said: “With a rejuvenated ministerial team, it is crucial that the government turns its attention to the environmental, climate and clean growth agenda. With COP26 only nine months away, the UK can host the summit in a position of strength by putting forward a clear policy plan for delivering its net zero emissions target, progressing its Environment Bill and developing a trade policy that is consistent with its climate and environmental ambitions.  

Signe Norberg added: “Having a minister in charge of COP26 will hopefully focus minds and enable rapid progress in organising the conference. UK climate diplomacy now needs to double down on the key issues that will be most contentious at the summit, including developing a viable mechanism to support countries that are already vulnerable to climate impacts and reaching agreement on a rulebook for international co-operation and carbon markets under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.”  

PARLI

Launch of COP26 Climate Summit by the Prime Minister: Aldersgate Group reactive

4th February 2020

Reacting to today’s speech by the Prime Minister, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “It's encouraging to hear the Prime Minister speak unequivocally about the urgency of acting on climate change. Hosting the most important climate summit since the Paris Agreement places a huge responsibility on the UK’s shoulders. Getting nations around the world to increase their emission reduction pledges at the summit and ensuring that developing economies and vulnerable nations get adequate financial support will be critical to the long-term credibility of global climate talks. A successful outcome at COP26 must therefore become a central, cross-government priority from now on." 

"To maximise its influence at COP26, the government must ensure that its domestic and global climate policy agendas are fully co-ordinated. In practice, this means publishing a policy plan well ahead of the summit, setting out how the UK will put itself on a credible track to achieve its net zero emissions target. It will also require that the UK’s upcoming free trade agreements are consistent with and support the delivery of this target.” [1]
 
Nick Molho added: “Many businesses across the Aldersgate Group membership have already publicly committed to net zero and science-based targets and are taking meaningful action to deliver these. However, government must now recognise that policy support – in particular in areas that are hard to decarbonise – will be essential to help progressive businesses achieve their ambitions and ensure that their competitors are required to follow suit.”

—ENDS—

[1] The Aldersgate Group will publish a new report in March, setting out businesses’ key policy priorities to put the UK on track for net zero emissions. The Group will also publish a new policy briefing in the Spring, setting out how the UK’s free trade policy can be consistent with high environmental standards.  

Boris in NY

Environment Bill: an important and welcome landmark but business needs more clarity

30th January 2020

Reacting to the announcement of the re-introduction of the Environment Bill, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “Improving the state of the natural environment is essential to support a resilient and competitive economy, improve our ability to adapt to climate change and deliver much needed negative emissions to achieve the UK’s net zero target. Businesses have been keen to play an important role in this, but lack of clarity about future policy has deterred investment flowing towards the natural environment to date. That’s why we welcome the re-introduction of the Environment Bill today and the creation of a process to set legally binding long-term targets, backed up by environmental improvement plans.

The return of the Environment Bill sends an important signal to business, but more clarity is needed to ensure private sector investment rapidly materialises alongside ambitious government action. In particular, the Bill needs to clearly set out the expected ambition of future targets and how they will be set, provide for environmental improvements in each priority areas to be delivered in a cohesive way, and establish a more robust framework to incentivise successive governments to deliver on shorter-term interim targets as is the case under the Climate Change Act, where interim carbon budgets are legally binding.”

Nick Molho added: “In addition to a clear sense of direction, businesses value the reassurance provided by an independent and effective regulatory enforcement regime. We welcome the broad enforcement powers provided to the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) and the inclusion of climate legislation within these, but believe its independence needs strengthening in the Bill. Parliament should be given a key role in scrutinising the appointment of the OEP Chair and we would welcome greater clarity in the Bill on the OEP’s multi-year budget.”

 

PARLI

Queen’s Speech: environment and climate change must be at the heart of this government’s policy agenda

19th December 2019

Reacting to today’s Queen’s Speech, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “The next five years will determine whether the UK is on track to deliver its net zero emissions target and reverse the decline of the natural environment. With ample cross-party consensus, two major global summits in 2020 and growing business and public calls for more action, this government has the historic opportunity to push forward the most ambitious environmental and climate policy agenda on record. The Environment Bill announced today will be an important step in this direction: it should set robust environmental improvement targets, set tangible interim milestones and establish a truly independent Office for Environmental Protection.”

Nick Molho added: “The measures introduced in the Environment Bill need to be rapidly accompanied by a truly ambitious and concrete policy plan for achieving net zero emissions covering areas such as buildings, surface transport and industrial decarbonisation. It is vital that this plan is delivered well ahead of the autumn in order to maximise the UK’s influence as host of COP26 and ensure this crucial summit results in a meaningful increase in global emission reduction pledges.”

PARLI

General Election: now or never for the environment and climate change

13th December 2019

Following the success of the Conservative Party at the General Election, the Aldersgate Group urges the new Government to press ahead with a meaningful and ambitious climate and environmental agenda.

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “The Government’s policy decisions in this parliamentary term will be absolutely critical. They will determine whether the UK is genuinely on track for achieving its net zero target and reversing the decline of the natural environment within a generation. They will also determine whether UK businesses can become amongst the most competitive providers of low carbon goods and services globally. The Prime Minister and the Conservative Party have been consistent in voicing their support for climate and environmental action throughout the campaign, they must now deliver on the ground with the urgency and thoroughness that the clean growth challenge requires.”

Nick Molho added: “Businesses want the Government to hit the ground running in 2020, with urgent policy decisions needed on the environmental and climate agenda. Key priorities should include putting together credible plans to deliver and fund the net zero transition and introducing an ambitious Environment Bill to safeguard the proper enforcement of environmental law and introduce legally binding environmental improvement targets. This will need to be complemented by putting in place a climate diplomacy and trade strategy that is consistent with delivering the UK’s climate and environmental targets.” [1]  

—ENDS—

[1] The Aldersgate Group launched its Manifesto report on 21 November 2019, setting out key policy priorities across the climate and environmental agenda for the next Government. The report is available at: http://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/latest#general-election-2019-next-five-years-crucial-to-deliver-climate-and-environmental-goals

PARLI

The European Green Deal: an ambitious roadmap that needs to be rapidly followed by clear legislation

11th December 2019

Responding to the European Green Deal unveiled today by new Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said “As a cross-economy organisation with business members eager to invest in the EU’s climate resilient and low carbon infrastructure, we welcome today’s European Green Deal. Launching a flagship policy on climate change and environmental standards on the 11th day of the new Commission sends a powerful signal to the business community about the EU’s intention to transition to a net zero emissions economy. However, the Commission and other EU institutions now need to rapidly legislate for a net zero emissions target and an intermediate 2030 target to halve current EU emissions. These institutions should also ensure that the governance arrangements and policy goals for the Green Deal are mainstreamed across all areas of EU and member states’ policy decision making.”

Nick Molho added: “For the European Green Deal to be effective, it will need to be supplemented by ambitious near-term measures to accelerate emission cuts in the buildings, transport and energy sectors, as well as greening the financial system. These near-term priorities must be urgently accompanied by an ambitious EU-wide innovation programme to test critical solutions like carbon capture and storage, hydrogen and new land use management techniques. These will be key to cutting emissions in hard to treat sectors, such as heavy industry, and long-distance transport. Lastly, the EU institutions need to think ambitiously about a strategy on agriculture which ensures that the European Green Deal principles are placed at the heart of the Common Agricultural Policy.”

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General Election 2019: next five years crucial to deliver climate and environmental goals

19th November 2019

Today the Aldersgate Group publishes its manifesto report, Time to deliver: building a competitive and inclusive green economy, setting out key priorities for the new government following the General Election. The report – which received significant input from business and civil society organisations – calls for the next government to deliver a step change in policy ambition to put the UK on a credible pathway to achieve net zero emissions and urgently reverse the decline in the state of the natural environment.

* This report will be debated at an Aldersgate Group General Election event on Wednesday 27 November at 6.15pm, hosted by BT, with senior representatives of the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Green parties [1] *

Policy decisions over the next five years will have a critical impact on whether the UK is on track to deliver its net zero target and broader environmental ambitions. They will also determine whether UK businesses can be placed in a competitive position as global efforts to cut emissions intensify. Growing public concern about climate and environmental issues has been matched by cross-economy business calls for more ambitious action, as demonstrated by a letter signed by over 130 businesses earlier this year calling on Prime Minister Theresa May to legislate for a net zero target [2].

The Aldersgate Group manifesto argues that tackling climate change and environmental degradation should therefore be a central priority for the new government and sit at the heart of the UK’s economic policy. The next five years should also be about accelerating innovation in low carbon technologies and business models, supporting the UK’s economic competitiveness during the net zero transition and driving job creation as industries evolve and new supply chains are created.

The Aldersgate Group manifesto calls for the next government to:

  1. Put the UK on a credible pathway to achieve net zero emissions, by publishing a targeted update of the Clean Growth Strategy well ahead of the COP26 climate summit. This should include new policies to drive rapid emission cuts in sectors such as buildings and road transport, complete the decarbonisation of the power sector and deliver large scale trials of critical technologies needed to decarbonise industry, long-distance transport and the provision of heat; 
  2. Facilitate a just transition for workers and communities across the UK, by developing a national low carbon skills strategy and ensuring industry, local public bodies and government work together to help attract low carbon investment in parts of the countries in need of economic regeneration;
  3. Pass an ambitious Environment Bill that not only safeguards environmental protections currently enshrined in EU law but also goes beyond the status quo. This should include setting ambitious and legally binding environmental improvement targets and establishing delivery policies covering key areas such as air, water, soils, peatland, biodiversity and resource efficiency. Such targets are important in their own right but also crucial to help the UK adapt to climate change and deliver net zero emissions;
  4. Radically improve the UK’s resource productivity by implementing the Resources and Waste Strategy. Priority actions include introducing detailed regulatory measures (such as product standards) and fiscal incentives (through extended producer responsibility schemes and tax rebates for resource efficient products) that drive greater resource efficiency and cut waste across the economy;
  5. Grow the flows of private finance into green infrastructure by strengthening the Green Finance Strategy in both detail and ambition. This should include introducing a mandatory requirement for businesses and investors to disclose their exposure to climate-related risks from the early 2020s in line with the “TCFD recommendations” [3]; 
  6. Increase global ambition on climate change by capitalising on the UK’s presidencies of the COP26 climate summit in 2020 and G7 in 2021. An ambitious diplomatic policy on climate change should be matched by a trade policy that encourages greater trade in low carbon goods and services and promotes high environmental standards in line with the UK’s domestic goals.

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “This General Election is taking place at a crucial moment for the environment and the UK’s future competitiveness. Actions over the next five years will determine the UK’s ability to achieve its environmental targets and will also have a profound impact on whether UK businesses can become leading providers of the low carbon goods and services the world economy will increasingly demand.”

Nick Molho added: “The UK will be hosting the critical COP26 climate summit less than a year after the General Election. To be in a credible position to encourage international partners to increase their commitments on climate change, the next government will need to demonstrate that the UK has a comprehensive plan in place to deliver its own net zero target.”

Steve Waygood, Chief Responsible Investment Officer, Aviva Investors, said: “With COP26 in Glasgow, the UK Government has the opportunity to confirm its global leadership in green finance and showcase to other countries what level of ambition and toolkit of policies and incentives are necessary to successfully deliver net zero.”

Andy Wales, Chief Digital Impact and Sustainability Officer, BT, said: “We support the UK’s net zero leadership and urge all political parties to prioritise investment in growing the green economy. BT was one of the first companies in the world to set a science-based target aligned to a 1.5 degree pathway, and we have a target to be a net zero emissions business by 2045. We hope the UK’s climate leadership will inspire other countries to take further climate action at the upcoming summits in Madrid and Glasgow.”

Martin Casey, Director Public Affairs Europe, Cemex, said: “Now that the UK has legislated for a Net-Zero target, it is incumbent on the new Government to put in place the right framework and policies that will enable both businesses and people to make the changes necessary. CEMEX supports the need for an ambitious new Environment Bill, that will deliver for the natural environment and ensure that all businesses live up to their legal and social obligations. We look forward to working with the new Government to achieve this whilst promoting business competitiveness.”

Professor Martin Siegert, Co-Director, Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College London, said: “This election offers parties the chance to show real leadership by going beyond headline strategic targets, and committing to specific policies and priorities that will deliver the UK’s ambitious environmental and climate change goals. In the run up to the UK’s role as host of COP26 – the 2020 international climate change negotiations – it is vital that the UK shows real progress in moving towards a cleaner, greener future that is fair for all.”

Andy Walker, Technical Marketing Director, Johnson Matthey, said: “Johnson Matthey supports all policies which will help the UK maintain its environmental leadership, as exemplified by the commitment to become a net zero economy by 2050. This is a challenging target but gives a great opportunity for the UK to develop and implement the technologies which will help the world move towards becoming a truly sustainable ecosystem.”  

Andy Walker added: “The UK’s role as host of COP26 in 2020 and the G7 in 2021 provides the stage to demonstrate our environmental commitment to the world, and to encourage other large emitters to take on net zero emissions targets and increase their pledges under the Paris Agreement. Johnson Matthey looks forward to working with the next government to help the UK, and the world, meet these ambitious climate targets, in a just and inclusive way.”

Chris Smith, Managing Director, Michelin Tyre PLC, said: “Michelin welcomes all policies which will help the UK attain its ambitious environmental goals and looks forward to working with the next government to help achieve them. In particular, Michelin is determined to support all initiatives promoting resource efficiency and transport decarbonisation and will give its full backing to COP26 in Glasgow where stock will be taken of the COP21 commitments and CO2 targets will be re-evaluated.” 

Stefano Agostini, CEO, Nestlé UK & Ireland, said: “The Aldersgate Group’s Manifesto provides a clear and coherent set of recommendations for the UK to take action in moving to a green economy. Such actions will be vital in order to meet the commitment the UK has made to achieving a zero carbon economy by 2050. As a company who has made the same commitment to zero net emissions by 2050, we welcome and support policy leadership for a greener future.”

Matthew Wright, Managing Director, Ørsted UK, said: “This is a thoughtful manifesto that reminds us of the huge economic opportunity for UK businesses that awaits if Government sets the right framework for clean growth in the UK. Tackling climate change is the defining challenge of our time, but with the right ambition, and with Government and business working together, the energy transition we need is achievable.” 

Dr Adam Read, External Affairs Director, SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, said: “Over the past two years, Defra has made great strides towards delivering radical policy reform, which will fundamentally change the way products and packaging are produced, and how post-consumer waste is treated, which in turn will drive greater resource-efficiency and reduce waste across the economy. Legislation outlined in the ambitious Environment Bill will enable future Governments to implement Defra’s new strategy, which was developed in close consultation with industries across the circular economy.”

Dr Adam Read added: “It is essential that this programme continues apace regardless of the complexion of Parliament after the General Election. The UK looks sure to miss its EU-imposed recycling target of fifty per cent by 2020, so any post-Brexit Parliament will need to pick up the mantle quickly, if we are to achieve a more sustainable economy and avoid falling behind our European neighbours.”

Bevis Watts, CEO, Triodos Bank UK, said: “We have no time to lose. A climate and environmental emergency calls for immediate action and a radical transformation of the economy. This requires a well-designed overarching transition strategy, steered by government and with participation of all stakeholders in society. The banking sector must also play its part. The Aldersgate Group manifesto provides clear steps to take the UK in the right direction and the next government should have the courage to act accordingly.”

Abi Bunker, Director of Conservation and External Affairs, Woodland Trust, said: “Let’s not shy away from the truth. It will be a challenge, it will cost money, it will mean tough choices, but the human race is at a crossroads for our environmental future. If we are serious about tackling the climate and nature crisis we have to act, that’s the reality we live in, tough choices, big challenge, but we can all rise to meet it head on.”

David Symons, UK Director of Sustainability, WSP, said: “Delivering a resilient, net zero, sustainable economy is vital for the UK’s future prosperity and productivity. Hosting the UN Climate Summit in 2020 provides a watershed moment for the UK to show it can lead on delivery as well as targets setting. All parties should commit to delivering fast action to decarbonise the UK’s economy, pass a strong Environment Bill and maintain high environmental standards to ensure we stay on track to deliver on the UK’s 2050 net zero target, in an inclusive and just way.”

—ENDS—

[1] The report will be debated at an Aldersgate Group General Election event hosted by BT on the evening of 27 November, with senior representatives of the Conservative, Green, Labour and Liberal Democrats parties. You can register here: http://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/events/general-election-2019-putting-the-uk-on-track-for-net-zero-emissions-and-a-healthier-environment

[2] More than 130 leading businesses urge UK government to legislate for 2050 net zero emissions economy, Aldersgate Group Press Release (31 May 2019): http://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/latest#more-than-120-leading-businesses-urge-uk-government-to-legislate-for-2050-net-zero-economy

[3] The Financial Stability Board’s industry-led Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure published its recommendations (the TCFDs) on how consistent climate-related financial disclosures can lead to better pricing and assessment of climate-related risks and more effective measures to mitigate the impact of climate change on businesses and investors. On 9 October 2019, the Aldersgate Group published its latest policy briefing on why mandatory climate disclosure in line with the TCFDs is essential to get to net zero emissions: http://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/latest#mandatory-climate-risk-disclosure-essential-to-get-to-net-zero


Legally binding targets mark significant milestone for the environment

15th October 2019

Reacting to the publication today of the Environment Bill, Sarah Williams, Public Affairs Manager at the Aldersgate Group said: “It is a lack of clarity about the future which deters business investment. This is why businesses have backed the introduction of an ambitious and robust environmental governance framework that includes a comprehensive range of legally binding environmental improvement targets to support investment in the natural environment over the long term. The inclusion of a process to set such targets in the Environment Bill is hugely welcome. Business and civil society look forward to continuing to work with government to develop these targets and ensure they drive immediate action.”
 
Sarah Williams added: “It is great to see the progress that has been made in many areas of the Bill – importantly the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) has improved enforcement powers and will now be able to enforce all climate change legislation. It also includes many enabling powers that will drive delivery, such as the ability to set resource efficiency requirements for products and roll out Extended Producer Responsibility schemes. When developed these will allow the UK to capitalise on the real opportunity to achieve greater resource efficiency in product design.”
 
Sarah Williams concluded: “Work is still required to strengthen parts of the Bill – for instance, the OEP must be set up in a way that ensures its independence, with at the very least a pre-appointment hearing being held for its chair. We will also need to make sure that environmental principles continue to be robustly applied across government decision-making.”

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Mandatory climate risk disclosure essential to get to net zero

9th October 2019

In a new policy briefing out today, the Aldersgate Group calls on the government to introduce mandatory requirements in the early 2020s for businesses and investors to report their exposure to climate risks in line with the TCFD recommendations and set out what actions they are taking to manage these risks [1]. At a time where the UK has legislated a net zero emissions target and is poised to introduce a new Environment Bill, the Group argues that mandatory disclosure is essential to provide a level playing field across the economy, provide meaningful and comparable information to investors and ensure that business and investment strategies are aligned with the UK’s net zero target.

Today’s new briefing, which received significant cross-industry input, sets out key recommendations to accelerate the take-up of climate risk disclosure aligned with the recommendations of the Financial Stability Board’s Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (‘the TCFDs’):

1. The Government should use its interim review of the Green Finance Strategy [2] in 2020 to make TCFD-aligned reporting mandatory by the early 2020s for all large companies currently reporting to the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting regime. This should be done on a ‘comply or explain’ basis and should, once best practice and meaningful reference scenarios have been developed, be broadened to a wider range of businesses so that supply chains are comprehensively covered;

2. The introduction of a mandatory requirement to comply with TCFD-aligned reporting should be focused on disclosing decision-useful information, so that disclosure actually leads to a meaningful change in the way in which businesses and investors reduce their exposure to the physical and regulatory risks arising from climate change;

3. Companies should be provided with support to develop the meaningful long-term scenarios required by the TCFDs. The government should provide guidance setting out key assumptions linked to different temperature rise scenarios that companies can then use when developing their own scenarios. Building on the example of the Climate Financial Risk Forum for financial institutions, a Corporate Reporting Lab should be established to provide a safe forum where businesses, industry groups, academics and other organisations can develop sector-specific scenarios and trial different methods of disclosure;

4. In implementing TCFD disclosure requirements, the UK government should continue to work closely with international partners to ensure as much consistency as possible. The European Commission, which recently issued guidelines integrating the TCFD recommendations into the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive, should in particular remain an important partner.

5. Investors should play a more proactive role, by ensuring that the companies they invest in are taking climate risk disclosures seriously and by holding them accountable for inadequate risk management.

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “Mandatory disclosure of climate risks focused on improving business and investor decisions is essential to drive economy-wide action to cut emissions in line with the UK net zero target and improve the economy’s resilience to the physical impacts of climate change and the risks associated with a disorderly transition to a net zero economy. Mandatory adoption of the TCFD recommendations is also essential to ensure that best reporting practice is adopted across the economy and that investors are provided with transparent, meaningful and comparable information.”

Nick Molho added: “The UK is in a leadership position when it comes to green finance and climate action. The government can extend this leadership by announcing the introduction of mandatory TCFD-aligned reporting as part of the interim review of the Green Finance Strategy in 2020 and by using its influential position as host of the COP26 climate summit to encourage its key international partners to follow suit.”

-ENDS-

[1] The Financial Stability Board’s industry-led Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure published its recommendations (the TCFDs) on how consistent climate-related financial disclosures can lead to better pricing and assessment of climate-related risks and more effective measures to mitigate the impact of climate change on businesses and investors.    

[2] The Green Finance Strategy, published in July 2019, sets out the government’s expectation that all listed companies and large asset owners will disclose in line with TCFD recommendations by 2022. However, it does not make these disclosures mandatory. An interim review of progress in 2020 will assess whether further action is required on TCFD implementation, with a formal review due in 2022.


Scottish Climate Change Bill is an important global milestone

25th September 2019

Responding to the vote of the Scottish Parliament to approve the Scottish Climate Change Bill, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said:

“We strongly welcome the Scottish Parliament’s adoption of the Scottish Climate Change Bill that commits Scotland to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 and a 75% reduction by 2030. This Bill is significant because it shows global leadership ahead of the crucial COP26 climate summit that will be hosted in Glasgow, but also because it follows the recent Programme for Government where the Scottish Government put climate change at the heart of its plans for the year ahead. Looking ahead, the Scottish Government and Parliament should build on this comprehensive approach to tackling climate change and ensure that policy plans to accelerate emissions cuts in crucial areas such as buildings, land use and transport are rapidly finalised to put Scotland on a credible pathway towards meetings its target. This will reduce the cost of investment and support businesses in benefiting from the significant economic opportunities that will come with being an early mover in the development of new ultra low carbon goods and services."

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Reactive to PM Boris Johnson announcements at the UN Climate Action Summit 2019

24th September 2019

Attending the UN Climate Action Summit in New York yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the UK would double the UK’s international climate finance spend, including a £1bn aid package to export British clean technology to developing countries, as well as a £220m fund to protect endangered wildlife. Reacting to the PM’s statement, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “These commitments are welcome as they confirm the UK’s determination to help other countries tackle climate change and halt biodiversity loss. Given only a few countries stepped up with more ambitious pledges at the Climate Action Summit, it reinforces the crucial importance of the UK being an effective host of COP26, which must see all emitters delivering more ambitious NDCs. Ultimately the test of the UK’s commitment on climate change will be whether it introduces a comprehensive plan to deliver its own net zero target by 2050 at the latest.”
 
Nick Molho added: “The Prime Minister reflected on the UK’s record of cutting emissions. The government must now broaden its action to restore the natural environment by introducing a world-leading Environment Bill that aims to reverse the current biodiversity loss in the UK to set a clear example at home while contributing to the protection of the environment abroad.”

Boris in NY

Spending Round 2019: UK climate and environmental ambitions require comprehensive plans

4th September 2019

Reacting to the Spending Round statement presented to Parliament today by the Chancellor Sajid Javid, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “Recognising that today’s Spending Round was not a major fiscal event, it was good to hear the Chancellor reconfirm the government’s commitment to delivering the net zero target and the ambition of its 25 Year Environment Plan. The announcements of more spending on public transport and further education are steps in the right direction, the latter being important to ensure the UK’s workforce is well placed to benefit from jobs in the low carbon economy.”

Nick Molho added: “However, today’s announcements do little to put the UK on track to achieve its environmental and climate ambitions. If the government is serious about these commitments, it needs to put in place comprehensive plans to deliver them. This requires in particular an ambitious Environment Bill that sets long-term environmental improvement targets and is backed up by properly funded delivery policies. It also requires a detailed update to the Clean Growth Strategy to increase policy ambition in areas such as buildings, transport and industrial decarbonisation to put the UK on a credible pathway to achieve net zero emissions.”

Sajid Javid

Government must crack on with delivering a competitive and net zero emissions economy

1st August 2019

In a new manifesto published today, the Aldersgate Group calls on the new government to press ahead with action to deliver the UK’s net zero emissions target and introduce an ambitious Environment Bill. This manifesto, Building a competitive, net zero emissions and climate-ready economy, calls for ambitious and stable policies that will accelerate emission cuts across the economy, reverse the decline of the natural environment and deliver industrial opportunities in fast growing areas of the world economy. The manifesto’s key demands for the new government are to:

Introduce a ‘Clean Growth Strategy Plus’ that delivers an increase in ambition to match the UK’s net zero target. This should incorporate concrete policies that accelerate private sector investment to decarbonise priority sectors such as surface transport and buildings. Binding energy efficiency targets, fiscal incentives such as stamp duty adjustments, tightening emission vehicle standards and guaranteed zero emission vehicles grants until the mid-2020s are amongst some of the key measures called for in the manifesto. 

Introduce without delay an ambitious Environment Bill that provides a world-class environmental law enforcement regime, safeguards environmental protections currently enshrined in EU law and goes beyond the status quo by setting ambitious and legally binding targets for environmental improvements in line with the vision of the 25 Year Environment Plan. 

Rapidly implement the Resources and Waste Strategy through the introduction of detailed regulatory measures and fiscal incentives such as resource efficiency product standards, extended producer responsibility schemes and updated public procurement guidelines that drive greater resource efficiency and cut waste across the economy. 

Turn the Green Finance Strategy into concrete action by in particular working to make TCFD disclosure mandatory in the early 2020s, supporting investors and businesses to disclose their exposure to climate risks in line with these recommendations and working closely with the Green Finance Institute to identify and direct public funding towards key market barriers that stand in the way of greater private sector investment in green infrastructure. 

Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group, said: “The time has now come to focus on delivery. If the UK is to attract the large volume of affordable private sector investment required to deliver its environmental and climate ambitions and strengthen its competitive advantage in these fast growing areas of the global economy, Boris Johnson’s government needs to rapidly flesh out a plan of action for the decade ahead to put the UK on track for achieving net zero emissions and introduce an ambitious and comprehensive Environment Bill.”

Nick Molho added: “With the date of Brexit fast approaching, it is crucial that the UK’s trade policy is consistent with its domestic policy agenda. In order to support the integrity of the UK’s increasingly ambitious environmental and climate policy commitments and support the competitiveness of its businesses, the UK’s future trade agreements should seek to uphold high environmental standards that are consistent with domestic targets and promote growing trade in low carbon and environmental goods and services.”  


Reactive to election of Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader

23rd July 2019

Responding to the election of Boris Johnson as the new leader of the Conservative Party, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: "The new Prime Minister will arrive at Downing Street with a significant to-do list, not least to avoid the significant negative environmental impacts that would be associated with a sudden, no-deal Brexit. Beyond Brexit, the UK’s new net zero target and the promise of a landmark Environment Bill is a welcome backdrop for this new administration. Boris Johnson now has the opportunity to deliver a significant and concrete step up in action across government and ensure the UK is on a credible path to achieving its environmental ambitions. We need to see the introduction of a suite of new policies that will drive affordable business investment in the green infrastructure required to tackle and adapt to climate change – particularly to deliver urgent emissions cuts in buildings and transport and complete the cost-effective decarbonisation of the power sector. This will also help strengthen the position of UK businesses as global leaders in the provision of low carbon and environmental technologies and services."

Nick Molho added: "We look forward to seeing the Environment Bill introduced as early as possible in the next parliamentary session that sets in place an ambitious and robust legal framework to drive much needed improvements in our natural environment and increase the UK’s resilience to climate change. This should include the introduction of legally-binding targets in key areas such as air, water, soils, peatland, biodiversity and resource efficiency, and a fully independent Office for Environmental Protection.”

BORISJ

Reactive to Secretary of State Michael Gove's environment speech

16th July 2019

Reacting to Secretary of State Michael Gove’s environment speech today, Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group, said: “We strongly welcome the Secretary of State laying out a clear political, economic and moral case to rapidly tackle environmental degradation. The Environment Bill isn’t only of significant importance to society and business – as Mr Gove rightly points out – but it is also core to the success of our overall environmental and climate policy as a healthier environment is critical to our ability to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change.
 
For the Bill to mark a genuine step change in environmental action, it is imperative that it contains an overarching objective to significantly improve the state of the natural environment. This objective must be supported by a comprehensive set of targets in secondary legislation aimed at improving key aspects of the natural environment such as air and water quality, soil quality, biodiversity and resource efficiency. This is essential to drive private sector investment in the years to come. By having legally binding targets and a comprehensive scrutiny and reporting regime that requires the government to take action to deliver them, the Bill will drive the recovery of our natural environment, grow our environment’s ability to absorb emissions and ensure that our homes, infrastructure and businesses are more resilient to the impacts of unavoidable climate change. It will also strengthen the position of UK businesses as global leaders in the provision of environmental technologies and services.”

MG

Green Finance Strategy must deliver a net zero and resilient future

2nd July 2019

Welcoming the launch of the Green Finance Strategy today, Alex White, Policy Manager at the Aldersgate Group, said: “The UK’s first ever Green Finance Strategy is an important step in delivering the necessary investment for our 2050 net zero emissions target and the ambition of the 25 Year Environment Plan. There are several good announcements today. For example, the new £5m Green Home Finance Fund is a positive move for incentivising domestic energy efficiency investment, and the launch of the Green Finance Education Charter will be vital in ensuring the UK financial sector has the skills and expertise to lead the flourishing international green finance market.”
 
“We welcome the recognition that private finance has a key role in tackling climate change and enhancing resilience, but the government must enable it to do so through the right policy framework. This Strategy must now be accompanied by an update on the Clean Growth Strategy based on the new net zero target, with binding regulations and market mechanisms to increase investment in zero carbon buildings, industry, transport and natural climate solutions.”
 
Alex White added: “Widespread and consistent adoption of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations is necessary to create a level playing field, ensure comparability and future-proof businesses and investors against the financial impacts of climate change. We urge government to send a clearer signal that TCFDs will become mandatory by 2022 if voluntary take-up remains insufficient.”

- ENDS -

[1] The Aldersgate Group published a report on green infrastructure investment in March 2018, Towards the new normal: increasing investment in the UK’s green infrastructure which considers changes to financial regulations to encourage long-term investment in green infrastructure and greater mandatory business disclosure of climate and environmental risks to better inform investment decisions, alongside recommendations on targeted public spending to crowd in private sector investment in complex projects and greater policy detail to deliver a cost-effective pipeline of green infrastructure projects.
 
[2] The Aldersgate Group was also part of the government’s Green Finance Taskforce which released its recommendations in March 2018. http://greenfinanceinitiative.org/workstreams/green-finance-taskforce/

GFS

Legislating net zero target is crucial step forward

11th June 2019

Welcoming the government’s announcement that it will update the Climate Change Act by introducing a 2050 net zero target, Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group, said: “This is a crucial step forward and a landmark achievement for the Prime Minister and all the ministers and MPs who have supported an increase in the UK’s climate ambition. The message from business is clear: the UK will strengthen the competitiveness of its economy by being the first major economy to legislate an ambitious net zero target – as long as this is supported by a comprehensive policy package.
 
We now look to the Prime Minister’s successor to introduce a robust policy package that puts the UK on a credible path to deliver net zero emissions by 2050 and supports business investment and competitiveness. It is important that the review planned in five years’ time does not undermine the robustness of this package. As we have seen recently in the UK’s offshore wind and recycling sectors, complementing clear targets with ambitious innovation and market creation policies is what rapidly brings down the costs of new technologies and grows domestic supply chains.” 
 
Nick Molho added: “The best way to address competitiveness concerns will be for the government to introduce measures such as product standards to protect British industry from high carbon competition and use its extensive diplomatic network to encourage other emitters to adopt similar targets and grow low carbon trade. Indeed, this announcement puts the UK in a very strong position to host COP26, which will be a crucial opportunity to raise international ambition.”

PARLI