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

15th July 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

8th July 2020

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


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


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

7th July 2020

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

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

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

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

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


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

30th June 2020

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


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


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

25th June 2020

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

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

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


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

CCC logo website

UK trade policy must be aligned with environmental and climate goals

24th June 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[1] On 1 June 2020, around 200 business leaders – including several Aldersgate Group business members - wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and called for an economic recovery plan aligned with the UK’s net zero target and other environmental goals. More information is available here
[2] It is estimated that the global market for low carbon goods and services could grow to around £1trillion a year by 2030:

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

12th June 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

[2] On 1 June 2020, around 200 business leaders – including several Aldersgate Group business members - wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and called for an economic recovery plan aligned with the UK’s net zero target and other environmental goals. More information is available here.

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

29th May 2020

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

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

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


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

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

COP26 delay must be used to maximise summit success

28th May 2020

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.” 


EU Recovery Plan: Aldersgate Group reactive

27th May 2020

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.”


Petersberg Climate Dialogue: Aldersgate Group reactive

29th April 2020

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.”

Petersberg 2020

Postponement of COP26: Aldersgate Group reactive

1st April 2020

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.”


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.”

[1] The Aldersgate Group published a comprehensive report, Shifting Emissions into Reverse Gear, on how to cut road transport emissions in March 2019:


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.”


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.

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.”  


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.”


[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.  


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.”



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.”


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]  


[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: