Today, the Aldersgate Group launches a new policy briefing, Seize the moment: building a thriving, inclusive and resilient economy in the aftermath of COVID-19, showcasing a wide range of low carbon and environmental projects that could address some of the key economic and social challenges facing the UK following the COVID-19 crisis. From energy efficiency and charging infrastructure investments to hydrogen trials, green tech and wetland restoration projects, today’s briefing argues that low carbon and nature restoration projects can deliver key benefits in terms of employment, greater regional equality, long-term competitiveness and resilience.
The briefing contains a wide range of case studies from Aldersgate Group members including Anglian Water, BT, Johnson Matthey, Legal and General Investment Management, National Grid, Scottish Power, Tesco, TLT LLP, Triodos Bank and the RSPB . It follows a recent letter sent by over 200 business leaders to the Prime Minister calling for an economic recovery aligned with the UK’s climate and environmental goals  and recommends key policies to deliver these types of projects on the ground.
Reacting to the publication of the briefing, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “There has rarely been a time when the economic, social and environmental agendas have been so closely aligned. It is clear from the case studies in our report that incentivising low carbon and nature restoration projects as part of the UK’s recovery plan could do much to tackle economic and social concerns around jobs, regional inequality, long-term competitiveness and resilience.”
Today’s policy briefing argues that an economic recovery focused on stimulating low carbon and nature restoration projects could deliver key benefits, including:
Nick Molho added: “Putting an ambitious environmental and climate agenda at the heart of the UK’s economic recovery need not be overly reliant on public money. Targeted public investment will be important to support early stage innovation in areas such as hydrogen and carbon capture and storage but a lot of the heavy lifting can be done through the introduction of clear public policy signals to attract private sector investment in areas such as energy efficiency, charging infrastructure and natural capital projects.”
Peter Simpson, Chief Executive, Anglian Water, said: “The need for economic recovery from COVID-19 in the face of the ever more pressing climate emergency presents business leaders not just with an opportunity to create a fairer, more sustainable future, but a responsibility to do so. I believe we can recover from this pandemic in a way that brings economic, environmental and social prosperity. We stand ready to work with government and our communities on a resilient, low carbon future that leaves nobody behind.”
Andy Wales, Chief Digital Impact and Sustainability Officer at BT, said: “As we emerge from the crisis caused by COVID-19, government, businesses and policymakers must put action on climate at the heart of their efforts to revive the economy. BT is stepping up on climate action by backing new green technologies through our Green Tech Innovation Platform and by investing in the UK’s digital infrastructure. We want to encourage and help others to do the same - creating a more sustainable, resilient, low carbon economy.”
Martin Casey, Director Public Affairs Europe at CEMEX, said: “Aligning the economic recovery package with the UK’s net zero emissions goal presents great opportunities for CEMEX. Reducing emissions is not limited to our production process but to the whole life cycle of our products and we have committed globally to reach net zero concrete by 2050. We are committed to continue reducing our direct and indirect emissions in our processes, both through the maximization of the traditional CO2 reduction levers and through implementing Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) and other carbon innovative technologies. Our aim is to enable the development of climate-smart urban projects, sustainable buildings and climate resilient infrastructures. Setting a clear policy direction for restarting the economy will enable the private sector to play its part in the recovery in a way that advances our climate and environmental goals.”
Steve Andrews, CEO at Earthwatch Europe, said: “It is heartening to see so many organisations calling on Government to ensure a fairer, greener recovery post-COVID-19. Let’s hope they’re listening. If COVID-19 and lockdown have taught us anything, it is the need to take science seriously and for Government to focus now, with urgency, on threats that seem beyond the electoral cycle.”
Andy Walker, Technical Marketing Director at Johnson Matthey, said: “As this policy briefing outlines, the government has a “historic opportunity” to accelerate the transition to a low carbon and environmentally resilient economy as it develops and implements its strategy to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. Since the Climate Change Act was passed, the UK has successfully demonstrated that economic growth can go hand in hand with emissions reductions, further supporting the widely held view that measures which cut greenhouse gas emissions and stimulate the economy can be extremely effective in supporting jobs and economic growth. This “Build Back Better” approach has the additional benefit of putting the UK on track to deliver our 2050 net zero commitments, strengthening our leadership and influence at the upcoming COP26 and G7 summits, as well as generating lasting social, competitiveness and resilience benefits.”
Alexander Burr, Global ESG Public Policy Analyst at Legal and General Investment Management, said: “The UK government is faced with a unique opportunity to show that we are not returning to ‘business as usual’ through a recovery package that accelerates green economic growth. Over recent weeks, businesses and investors have been pledging their willingness and support for this agenda. The government should build on this foundation, bringing forward mandatory climate reporting and broadening its reach. Investors like LGIM need greater transparency and comparability from companies on their climate-related risks and opportunities, to direct capital into ‘green’ projects at scale. As we have seen lately, there is such a thing as being too late – it is time to act now!”
Keith Anderson, CEO of Scottish Power said: “There is now a compelling case for accelerating investment in a cleaner, greener society to deliver positive outcomes for both the economy and the environment. Positive outcomes that will benefit all of us thanks to cleaner power, cleaner home heating and cleaner transport. We must make our recovery green – delivering the much-needed jobs and investment that will get people, businesses, towns and cities back on their feet while cleaning up the environment and decarbonising the economy. The government cannot let this moment pass the country by.”
He added: “We’re proud to be at the forefront of developing green infrastructure projects that will do just that. For example, partnering with Scottish Government and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks to support the shift to electric vehicles in a way that will ensure fair and equal access for all. Developments like this will be a real game-changer in moving us closer to net zero – as well as supporting the economy – and that’s why the two can, and must, go hand in hand. Only by doing that can we all achieve a cleaner and greener future – a better future – quicker.”
Maria Connolly, Head of Clean Energy & Real Estate at TLT LLP, said: “The positive impact that the last few months have had on the environment means that as we’re looking forward the question that’s being asked is, could a green recovery bolster the economy and accelerate our drive towards net zero by emphasising sustainable business practices and modern green industry over more traditional carbon intensive sectors? An economic recovery which places an ambitious environmental and climate agenda at its core would, without a doubt, also refocus growth, policy development and funding. While the backing of the financial sector is need to achieve this vision, for many banks and funders clean energy assets are still viewed as a stable investment, and if you consider the upscale in clean energy generation – an estimated 90GW of wind energy, 80GW of solar power and 30GW of energy storage - that will be required to achieve net zero then this represents an exciting opportunity to drive economic growth by creating jobs and developing local supply chains based on clean energy.”
Bevis Watts, CEO of Triodos Bank UK, said: “We now have a window of opportunity, as we seek to overcome the challenges of the coronavirus crisis. A recovery should seek to increase resilience across all areas of society and focus on shaping a more inclusive and low carbon economy. Triodos has always been a pioneer in sustainable finance – most recently we have been looking at linking the economic and societal benefits we take for granted from nature to real investment in its restoration. We need collaborative action to develop an economy linked to societal health and environmental limits and require a financial sector that proactively looks for solutions to achieve that. Simply a move to avoiding harm is not enough.”
Julia Barrett, Chief Sustainability Officer at Willmott Dixon, said: “We welcome this briefing from the Aldersgate Group, and believe that putting an ambitious environmental and climate agenda at the heart of the recovery will ensure that the UK economy is more competitive in the long-term whilst being more resilient to future risks. We believe that by investing in a nationwide retrofit programme supported by clear policy signals, government could deliver rapid localised job creation, whilst addressing the social inequalities associated with fuel poverty and poor health associated with living in cold homes. This is an essential step on our journey to net zero emissions as 80% of the buildings that will exist in 2050 are here now.”
Darren Moorcroft, CEO of the Woodland Trust, said: “A resilient economy and society require a resilient environment. This welcome work by the Aldersgate Group shows how vital it is that we seize this moment and ensure that actions to reboot the economy set us firmly on the road to net zero and show world leading ambition when it comes to restoring our natural environment. Protecting, restoring and expanding native tree cover – with all the social, economic and environmental benefits that will bring - belongs at the heart of any ‘green recovery’ worthy of the name. The Woodland Trust has a powerful record of delivery and stands ready to play its part - working alongside business, government and our NGO partners to help transform our nation into a better place for people and wildlife.”
 The briefing provides an overview of a wide range of case studies and projects from Anglian Water, BT, Johnson Matthey, National Grid, Scottish Power, the Teeside Collective, Tesco, TLT LLP, Triodos, Legal and General Investment Management and the RSPB. This briefing will soon be followed by in-depth economic analysis from the London School of Economics commissioned by the Aldersgate Group, setting out what should be the key pillars of the UK’s economic recovery plan.
 On 1 June 2020, around 200 business leaders – including several Aldersgate Group business members - wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and called for an economic recovery plan aligned with the UK’s net zero target and other environmental goals. More information is available here.
More than 200 leading UK businesses, investors and business networks, including several Aldersgate Group members , are writing to the Prime Minister today, urging for an ambitious environmental and low carbon agenda to be put at the heart of the upcoming economic recovery. In the letter, coordinated by several of the UK’s business groups , business leaders argue that such an approach is essential to tackle key public interest concerns, such as high unemployment, regional inequality and lack of resilience.
Following the coverage of the letter to the Prime Minister in the Financial Times and BBC news ahead of the publication of two major reports on the UK’s economic recovery, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “Today’s letter to the Prime Minister from business leaders across the UK economy shows that the economic, social and environmental agendas are fully aligned. From clean industrial clusters and energy efficiency to tree planning and renewable energy, low carbon growth and natural capital investments can play a key role in recovering from COVID-19 pandemic. These measures will help tackle unemployment and bring investment to parts of the UK in urgent need of economic opportunities. Placing climate and the environment at the heart of the recovery will also ensure that the UK economy is built on foundations that will make it competitive in the long-term and more resilient to future risks.”
The Aldersgate Group will soon be publishing a policy briefing setting out examples of projects and investments that will help rebuild the economy better, followed by an in-depth economic analysis on how to best design the UK’s upcoming recovery.
 The following Aldersgate Group members have signed the letter: UKGBC, Aviva Investors, BT plc, Buro Happold, CEMEX EMEAA, IKEA UK and Ireland, IEMA, Interface, Johnson Matthey, Kingfisher plc, Legal & General Investment, Lloyds Banking Group, Melius Homes, Michelin Tyre PLC, National Grid, Ramboll UK Limited, ScottishPower, Siemens GB&I, Sky Group, SUEZ UK, Tesco, Thames Water, Triodos Bank UK, Willmott Dixon, WSP.
 The letter published by the Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group today was supported by multiple business groups including the Climate Group, the Aldersgate Group, CDP, the B Team, Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, the Climate Group, Business in the Community, the UK Green Building Council, and more.
Reacting to the announcement made by the UNFCCC and the UK Government today regarding the new date for the COP26 climate summit, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “With the UK presiding over two high stakes summits in 2021 (G7 and COP26), Boris Johnson’s government is entering a crucial period where it will have a major role to play on the global stage. The Prime Minister must ensure his Government uses the full year’s delay to COP26 to maximum effect so that the summit is a genuine success. Alongside targeted diplomatic engagement to deliver progress on some of the most thorny negotiation issues, the UK can maximise its impact at the summit by putting low-carbon growth at the heart of its economic recovery plan and by publishing a credible strategy to put the country on track for its net zero target. By delivering bold climate ambition at home and abroad, Boris Johnson’s government can raise the UK’s diplomatic profile and provide a vital platform for UK businesses to be amongst the most competitive providers of carbon goods and services.”
Nick Molho added: “The UK's domestic agenda should include an economic recovery plan with a strong focus on low-carbon growth and a clear strategy to put the UK on a credible track to achieve its 2050 net zero emissions target. Leading by example will not only help the UK maximise its influence at COP26, but it will also allow its businesses to develop and strengthen their competitive advantages in the growing global market for low carbon goods and services.”
Responding to today’s announcement on the European Union’s recovery plan, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “The Aldersgate Group welcomes the European Commission’s economic recovery proposals, which total €1,290 billion of targeted support. The proposals include aligning the EU’s economic recovery with its goal of building a competitive, digital and climate neutral economy by 2050, and introduce the 'Next Generation EU' instrument to boost the EU budget in the short-term to protect livelihoods and foster sustainable and resilient growth.”
Nick Molho added: “An economic recovery plan with an ambitious climate and environmental agenda at its heart is a big part of the solution to European public interest concerns around unemployment, regional inequality, long-term competitiveness and resilience. Today’s announcement has the potential of driving investment and support growth in European supply chains in areas such as renewable energy, electric vehicles, low carbon industry and environmental improvements. This can deliver much needed economic activity and job creation in Europe whilst improving the resilience of the EU’s economy and society.”
Nick Molho concluded: “It is critical that these measures are now rapidly put in place and backed up by similar strategies at the member state level, such as through targeted public spending, policy measures and business support packages that are compatible with the Commission's target to reach climate neutrality within three decades and reverse the decline of of the EU’s natural environment and biodiversity.”
Reacting to the outcome of the 11th Petersberg Climate Dialogue held virtually by Germany and the UK, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “We welcome the result of this two-day conference, which gave an important signal on the importance of climate action during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. It was good to see countries around the world reasserting their climate ambition, the critical role of climate finance, and the importance of medium-term 2030 targets. Indeed, COVID-19 has not altered the fundamental assessment of climate change and of its impacts. As the host of both COP26 and the G7 summit in 2021, the UK now has a central role in galvanising concrete and joint global action on COVID-19 economic recovery and climate change.”
Nick Molho added: “The UK government deserves credit for its positive contribution to the dialogue, both from Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and COP26 President Alok Sharma. We particularly welcome the UK government’s recognition that a successful and responsible recovery is one that stands the test of time by ‘turning the tide on climate change’ and making the UK economy far more resilient to future environmental shocks. With existing and potential low-carbon industries located around the country, accelerating investment in low-carbon infrastructure and natural capital will help the UK rebuild its economy better by addressing immediate public interest concerns around unemployment and regional inequality as well as longer-term concerns around resilience to future crises.”
Reacting to the announcement made by the UNFCCC and the UK Government today regarding the postponement of the COP26 climate summit, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “Given the significant disruption created by the coronavirus pandemic in the UK and globally, today’s decision to postpone the COP26 summit is an understandable and sensible one. A delay is necessary to allow countries around the world to get on top of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, to consider how low carbon policies can help contribute to the recovery effort and to provide sufficient time for climate negotiations and ongoing initiatives to progress properly ahead of this crucial summit."
Nick Molho added: "Whilst a delay is important to ensure COP26 is a success, it would be sensible to hold the summit by the summer of 2021. This would help focus minds and maintain the momentum that we have been seeing until recently, with an increasing number of businesses and countries taking on net zero ambitions and engaging on the climate agenda in an unprecedented way.”
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.”
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.”
 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
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.”
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:
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.”
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.” 
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.”
 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.
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.”
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.”
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.” 
 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
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.”
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  *
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 .
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:
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.”
 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
 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
 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
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.”
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 . 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  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.”
 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.
 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.
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."
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.”