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Aldersgate Group: Early action imperative for the UK to gain maximum benefits from low carbon transition

30th June 2015

Following the publication of the Committee on Climate Change’s Progress Report to Parliament, the Aldersgate Group urges the government to rapidly put in place robust policies that will allow the UK to meet its existing carbon budgets on time, affordably and in a way that could deliver significant economic benefits for the UK.

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “The government faces several critical decisions during the early months of this Parliament to ensure that the deployment of energy efficiency and a wide range of low carbon infrastructure remains on track and the cost of new technologies continues to be cut. Policy and funding gaps, particularly after 2020, must be filled urgently.

"In the run up to the important climate change summit in Paris later this year, it is vital that the UK’s very positive role to date in these negotiations is seen to be backed up by continued tangible commitments to decarbonise its economy at home. This is all the more the case, given the recent announcements on onshore wind and the future of the Green Investment Bank.”

The Aldersgate Group, which will be publishing a major report next week on the government’s climate and energy policy priorities, argues that an early decision on the extension of the Levy Control Framework and a reboot of energy efficiency policy, with clear objectives and proposals tailored to different types of energy efficiency measures, will allow businesses to continue investing and innovating in the UK, delivering important infrastructure, cost reductions and economic growth.

Uncertainty about future funding could see projects being delayed and have a particularly damaging impact on supply chains and continued cost reductions.

Nick Molho said: “The offshore wind sector provides a good example of the benefits produced by a clear policy framework. The cost of energy from UK offshore wind farms has fallen by almost 11 per cent in the past four years, with the UK the world leader in this sector. However,offshore projects can take up to ten years to build, so the industry is already looking to the mid-2020s for some clarity about expected levels of deployment.”

Nick Molho added: “The report’s dual focus on tackling and addressing the potential impacts of climate change in the UK is welcome and highlights the importance of the government setting out a coherent vision on climate change, which must include improving the resilience of the UK’s infrastructure to its impacts. This will require good co-ordination between the government’s adaptation strategy and its objective to rapidly improve the state of the UK’s natural capital such as the ecological condition of farmed countryside.”

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Aldersgate Group urges government to build on promising growth of UK’s low carbon economy

26th May 2015

Tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech is an ideal opportunity for the new government to affirm the increasing importance of the low carbon economy in the UK and make a clear commitment to support its continued growth. 

With the UK’s low carbon economy having seen its turnover grow by almost 25% from 2010 to 2013 and reaching £122bn in 2013, the Aldersgate Group urges the government to recognise the importance of the sector and make a clear commitment in the Queen’s Speech to support its future development. 

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “From low emissions vehicles and waste processing to energy efficiency and low carbon electricity, the UK’s low carbon sector has grown rapidly in recent years but its future growth requires clear signals from the government that it is committed to continuing the UK’s transition towards a resource efficient and low carbon economy.”

Nick Molho added: “Important decisions will need to be made in the coming year on the future of the UK’s energy efficiency policies, the finance available in the levy control framework to support the continued deployment of clean energy technologies and how the UK intends to put the Natural Capital Committee’s recommendations into practice. A clear signal in the Queen’s Speech highlighting the government’s intention to make rapid and supportive decisions in these areas would be positively received by developers and the supply chain alike and have positive knock-on effects on the economy.” 

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Aldersgate Group welcomes Amber Rudd's appointment as DECC Secretary of State

11th May 2015

The Aldersgate Group welcomed today the appointment of Amber Rudd MP as the new Secretary of State for the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC).

Building on her impressive business background, Ms Rudd was previously an effective minister at DECC for the final year of the Coalition Government where she championed the role of innovation in building the UK's low carbon economy. 

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: "Amber Rudd's appointment at DECC is an excellent choice. She is in an ideal position to keep on growing the UK's low carbon sector, one of the fastest growing areas of our economy with a turnover that is already twice that of the UK's auto-manufacturing industry". 

The Aldersgate Group, whose business members represent a wide range of economic sectors and a collective turnover in excess of £300bn, has urged the new government to recognise the importance of the UK’s environmental and low carbon goods sector as part of the UK’s continued economic recovery.

Nick Molho adds: "We look forward to working with Ms Rudd to ensure the UK secures the benefits of growth, employment, exports and environmental protection the low-carbon sector has to offer."

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Aldersgate Group welcomes new government and urges it to build on promising growth of low carbon economy

8th May 2015

Following the majority won by the Conservative Party at the General Election, the Aldersgate Group urged the new government to build on the work done in the last five years and support the continued growth of the UK’s thriving environmental and low carbon economy. 

The Aldersgate Group, whose business members represent a wide range of economic sectors and a collective turnover in excess of £300bn, urged the new government to recognise the importance of the UK’s environmental and low carbon goods sector as part of the UK’s continued economic recovery. Ambitious, stable policies to tackle climate change and protect the natural environment will make the UK economy more competitive and resilient, whilst delivering important environmental and social benefits. 

During the period of the last government, the UK’s low carbon sector grew to employ nearly half a million people with its turnover increasing by nearly 25% between 2010 and 2013, reaching £122bn in 2013. With the sector’s annual gross valued added already equivalent to that of the foods and drinks industry, it is clear that investing in the low carbon economy should form an important part of the new government’s economic plan. 

The Aldersgate Group also pointed out that with nearly 2% of Scotland’s jobs already in the low carbon economy, the continued growth of the sector should remain an important priority for the SNP.

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “The low carbon sector has continued to thrive in the last five years and we look forward to working with the Conservative government to build upon it. We welcome in particular the Conservative Party’s commitments in its manifesto to improve the state of the UK’s natural environment, support the UK’s Climate Change Act and to continue reducing the UK’s emissions cost-effectively. Achieving these objectives will require ambitious and stable policies and a pragmatic approach to the role that energy efficiency and low carbon technologies, including onshore wind, can play in the future.”

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Environmental policy has its place at the heart of UK’s economic plan

18th March 2015

Reacting to today’s announcement on the 2015 Budget by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Aldersgate Group urged all political parties to put environmental policy at the heart of their economic proposals ahead of the next General Election. 

The Aldersgate Group highlighted in particular that there is increased evidence that policies to promote resource efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and improve the state of the UK’s natural capital could all deliver net economic benefits to the UK as well as make the UK economy better able to cope with future supply risks, whether these be linked to the availability of fossil fuels, key materials or local environmental resources such as water.

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “At a time where there is mounting evidence that ambitious policies to reduce carbon emissions, improve resource efficiency and protect our natural capital could deliver net economic gains to the UK and make our economy more robust to future resource shocks, it is in our national interest to put the environment at the heart of our country’s economic plan.”

Highlighting that today’s budget didn’t do much to recognise the important economic potential of environmental policies beyond the welcome support for a new tidal power scheme, Nick Molho added: “The upcoming election is a unique opportunity for all parties to integrate environmental policy as a key part of their economic proposals and show that they want the next Parliament to build an economy that will be competitive, secure and sustainable in the long-term.”  

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Six thought leaders demand action for an economy that works

13th March 2015

In a new report out today, jointly published by the Aldersgate Group and An Economy That Works Alliance, independent experts set out policy proposals to get the UK a step closer to a better functioning economy. Each is ripe for implementation by the next Government. 

This new report on “An Economy That Works” initiative, the last one to be wholly sponsored by the Aldersgate Group, hosts contributions from leading experts on one facet of the six core areas of An Economy That Works: high employment, equality of opportunity, wellbeing, low carbon development, zero waste and enhancing the UK’s natural capital. 

Contributions include:

  • A proposal by Susanne Barker of the manufacturers’ association EEF to set a goal to match the OECD average on government R&D spend to boost employment in the UK;
  • A proposal by Duncan Exley of the Equality Trust to put equality of opportunity at the heart of the UK’s industrial strategies to boost the economy’s competitiveness;
  • A proposal by Christine Berry of the New Economics Foundation to put wellbeing at the heart of business models and the UK’s economic policymaking;
  • A proposal by Ben Caldecott of Oxford University’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment for the UK Government to introduce a scheme to retire the UK’s remaining sub-critical coal power stations by the end of 2020 to tackle carbon emissions in the UK’s power sector;
  • A proposal by Prof Paul Ekins OBE of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources to introduce an environmental tax reform to boost the resource efficiency of the UK’s economy;
  • A proposal by Toby Roxburgh and Karen Ellis at WWF-UK to introduce a new programme to “stress test” the risks to the UK economy caused by the depletion of the UK’s natural resources, similar to the stress testing approach used in the UK’s banking system.
  • A proposal by Oliver Dudok van Heel of the Economy That Works Alliance to define clear headline indicators that will enable us to measure the UK’s progress towards an economy that works.

Peter Young, Chair of the Aldersgate Group, said: “This new report brings exciting new policy ideas from authoritative experts to deliver key benefits for our future economy, environment and society. If the UK economy is to prosper in the long run, the next Government needs to adopt synergistic policies like these to strengthen environmental and social drivers at the heart of a sound economic plan.”

Peter Young added: “Having created and developed An Economy That Works over the last 18 months, it is now time for An Economy That Works alliance to develop the next stage independent from the Aldersgate Group. This is important if it is to achieve the breadth and integration of interests which it was designed to reach. This report should give a taste of what policies might be successfully advocated, and we trust that An Economy That Works will now develop its initiative to bring coherence and new thinking beyond the environmental focus that the Aldersgate Group can provide.” 

Oliver Dudok van Heel, Executive Director of An Economy That Works Alliance, said: “This report sets the tone for the next stage of the development of the Economy That Works Alliance, by turning our vision into concrete policy proposals that will enable the transition to an economy that delivers prosperity, competitiveness and sustainability to the UK: an economy that works. 

“In keeping with the collaborative nature of the initiative, each proposal was developed by a different expert in the field, building on their own work and the expertise of their organisation, in full alignment with the overarching aims of An Economy That Works.”

Find the full report here.

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Aldersgate Group: “EU must continue building positive momentum ahead of Paris”

25th February 2015

The Aldersgate Group welcomed the vision set out in the EU Commission’s Road to Paris today but urged the EU Council to ensure that its final proposals on emission cuts for 2030 were in line with the “at least 40% domestic target” previously announced. This was key to build an increasingly positive momentum ahead of the Paris climate summit and to help grow the EU’s market share in the low-carbon sector.

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “It is often forgotten that Europe’s economic growth, competitive advantage and the health of its job market will be enhanced or undermined according to our response to climate change. Action on climate change isn’t just about preventing significant environmental and economic damage; it’s also about benefiting from the huge commercial opportunities that come with the shift to a low-carbon economy.”

Mr Molho added: “It is critical that the final emission cuts put forward by the EU Council in the coming weeks are in line with its previous decision to cut emissions domestically by at least 40% by 2030. The EU should also make clear at the outset that it is ready, if appropriate, to increase its emission targets in the event of a successful agreement being reached in Paris.” 

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Plenty more work to do after Lima but strong climate deal in Paris still possible

14th December 2014

Reacting to the outcome of the climate change talks in Lima, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: 

"After a 33 hour overtime marathon to conclude negotiations, the Lima climate change talks haven't delivered as clear cut an outcome as many wished for and significant work remains to be done in 2015 if the world is to prevent dangerous levels of climate change. But they have at least kept hopes for a strong climate change deal in Paris alive and the Peruvian delegation should be given much credit for that.  

"As we enter the important year that is 2015, businesses have a key role to play in speaking louder and in bigger numbers in favour of a strong climate deal to add their full weight to the essential efforts of civil society and the world's progressive governments. The economic, social and environmental imperative of preventing the worst impacts of climate change warrants such an unprecedented global coalition."

See our coverage in businessGreen.

 

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Aldersgate Group reactive to latest report by Committee on Climate Change

10th December 2014

Reacting to the latest report from the Committee on Climate Change, Energy prices and bills - impacts of meeting carbon budgets, the Aldersgate Group urged political leaders champion the shift towards a low carbon economy.

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: "This report from the Committee on Climate Change clearly shows that we can meet our carbon targets affordably, a conclusion that many other reports have also reached. To do so, the next Government must pursue energy efficiency policies to a much greater extent than has been done to date and show its support for the clean energy sector well beyond the end of this decade if businesses are to invest in our low carbon power stations at a reasonable cost."

"With the General Election fast approaching, our political leaders should remember that meeting our carbon targets isn't just about tackling climate change, it's also about equipping our nation with modern homes and building an efficient and low carbon energy system fit for the 21st century. Moving to a low carbon economy could unlock important employment and economic growth opportunities if the next Government shows a long-term commitment to this much needed transition and could significantly improve the UK's energy security by cutting its dependence on fossil fuels."

See our coverage in the Guardian.

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£280bn business coalition backs "better growth" roadmap to get UK economy working harder for environment and society

9th December 2014

A coalition of some of the UK's biggest businesses with a collective turnover in excess of £280bn today backed a new macro-economic roadmap for Britain by launching a new campaign called "An Economy That Works" based on the findings of a major report.

Campaign founders the Aldersgate Group and its progressive alliance of NGOs and UK businesses argue in their first report that the UK economy risks becoming detached from the long-term needs of society. It says that GDP growth is an important tool in creating prosperous societies, but warns that on its own growth is unable to define a path to lasting prosperity and competitiveness. It says an economy that works for the UK is one that will be low carbon, will deliver high employment and equality of opportunity, and place wellbeing and regard for natural resources at its core. 

Launching the new campaign, Sir Richard Lambert, former Financial Times editor and former Director-General of the CBI said: "Single-issue policymaking is struggling to address the complex social and environmental challenges of our time.  The Economy that Works coalition has a relentlessly positive vision and its systemic blueprint for creating decent jobs, delivering equal opportunity, and enhancing wellbeing across the UK is exciting and galvanising."

Peter Young, Chair of the Aldersgate Group said: "Despite encouraging UK growth figures, we risk getting stuck with reduced wellbeing, rising inequality, continued loss of natural capital and rising resource pressures. Policymakers urgently need to look beyond GDP to define successful growth – setting far more coherent policy goals which strengthen the links between our economy, our society and the environment.”

Learn more about the campaign at AnEconomyThatWorks.org

See our coverage in businessGreen.

See Sir Ian Cheshire's op-ed on our campaign in the Independent.

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Political ambition critical to building a thriving and future ready economy in the UK

2nd December 2014

In its latest report, the Aldersgate Group calls for visionary leadership from the next Parliament to tackle a range of environmental challenges and help build a growing, sustainable and resilient UK economy.

The General Election of May 2015 will deliver the Parliament that will take us to 2020, the target date for many of the UK’s environmental commitments and widely calculated to be the last period in which we can implement sufficient decarbonisation programmes to avoid dangerous levels of climate change. The Autumn Statement due out tomorrow (3rd December) marks the starter’s whistle for the Election campaign.

Now is the time for ambitious leadership from all parties to win back voters with a positive and long-term vision for the UK. Many threats to the UK economy are characteristically long-term, which makes this period, six months before a General Election, politically unique in allowing parties to consider issues beyond the confines of the parliamentary cycle.

The Aldersgate Group Manifesto identifies six target areas for the next parliament to help the UK effectively address today’s big environmental challenges, whilst maximising economic benefits for the UK. The next government must (1) accelerate the move to a competitive low carbon economy, (2) prioritise energy and resource efficiency, (3) improve our understanding and the state of our natural capital, (4) equip the UK’s workforce with the right skills to benefit from the opportunities offered by the transition to a sustainable economy, (5) increase financial flows towards low carbon and other environmental projects and (6) ensure the UK continues to benefit from progressive European environmental standards whatever the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “As a business-led coalition with members drawn from a wide range of economic sectors, the Aldersgate Group is well placed to advocate policies that will benefit the UK as a whole.

“The outcome of the General Election in May is unpredictable, yet we know that voters are yearning for a positive vision to tackle the challenges we face as a country today. This report sets out how politicians, recognising the climate and resource challenges that we face, can go about creating an efficient, resilient and low carbon economy and deliver significant economic and social benefits for the UK.”

See our coverage in businessGreen here.


Lima must lay the framework for a global climate deal in 2015

27th November 2014

From 1st to 12th December, the 20th Conference of Parties (COP) will be held in Lima to agree the framework of a global climate deal. The Aldersgate Group welcomes the momentum that has built in the run-up to Lima - with the UN Climate Summit, US-China climate accord and the Green Climate Fund’s mobilisation of $9.3bn - but urges negotiators to lay the groundwork for an ambitious deal to be signed in Paris in 2015 (COP 21).

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “2015 is a pivotal year for climate action. Paris will be a watershed for international climate negotiations which, as the IPCC’s Synthesis Report showed earlier this month, must drive action at the pace and scale required by climate science. Lima must establish a framework for individual countries’ domestic climate action plans post-2020 and outline how they will submit their pledges.”

See our coverage on edie.net.

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IPCC report makes scientific and economic case for tackling climate change crystal clear

2nd November 2014

Reacting to the publication today of the Synthesis Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Aldersgate Group urged world leaders and the UK government to deliver an international deal at the pace and scale called for by climate science.

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “The world’s scientific community has given us both a clear warning and a message of hope. It has made it crystal clear that man-made climate change is a reality but has also shown that prompt, cost-effective and coordinated action by the world’s governments can help limit the detrimental impacts that unabated climate change would have on the natural environment and the world economy. It is now time for governments to deliver a deal at the pace and scale required by climate science.”

Referring to recent research from the New Climate Economy Foundation and Cambridge Econometrics, Nick Molho added: “Beyond the benefits of avoiding the economic damage that would be caused by unabated climate change, Governments should also remember that moving to an efficient and low-carbon economy is an opportunity in itself. Recent research shows for instance that meeting the UK’s existing carbon targets under its Climate Change Act would result in higher GDP, higher household income and higher levels of employment by 2030 compared to a situation where the UK does little to reduce its emissions.”

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EU leaders agree 2030 climate and energy package

24th October 2014

Reacting to the European Council announcement, Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group said: “European leaders have made the right decision to commit to a greenhouse gas emission reduction target of at least 40% by 2030, which keeps open the option to increase the EU’s commitment to a higher and more adequate target in the event of successful climate negotiations in Paris next year.  Beyond the obvious environmental benefits, recent research shows that a strong greenhouse gas target is in the interest of the UK economy and we therefore urge the UK Government to push for an ambitious international deal on climate change in 2015.”

Nick Molho added: "It is on the other hand disappointing that the package contains insufficient ambition on energy efficiency, one of the cheapest ways of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, protecting consumers against rising energy bills and improving energy security. We urge the next Government to make energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority in the UK to ensure its environmental, economic and energy security benefits can be maximised."  

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European Council must agree on 2030 energy and climate policy framework

6th October 2014

In the run-up to the crucial European Council on 23rd-24th October, the Aldersgate Group has signed a letter to the Heads of State and Government of the European Union, calling for "a robust 2030 energy and climate policy framework and energy security strategy," that can meet Europe's long-term climate objectives and deliver a global climate agreement in next year's negotiations in Paris.

The letter, signed by 57 companies, funds and associations, asserts that an ambitious agreement would “contribute towards a modern, resource-effecient and low carbon growth as a central driver for Europe’s economic recovery and competitiveness agenda”. Signatories include the Aldersgate Group members Philips, Kingfisher, and Interface.


Business to business partnerships to drive climate development

24th September 2014

A new report and series of pilot projects finds that business can play a leading role in leveraging their strengths to deliver the combined outcomes of greater opportunity for the poor, benefits for the climate and resilience against physical climate changes.

Written by the Aldersgate Group and DfiD-supported Climate Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), the report finds that business-to-business partnerships can create the conditions for transformational change, through the creation of climate resilient global supply chains, opening up new markets and creating jobs and income, or developing innovative and scalable solutions to tackling emissions and poverty.

These partnerships can be effectively supported by strategic and targeted aid, turning climate and development opportunity into climate and development success. Directly following the publication of the report, four pilot projects have been funded by DfiD, including renewable energy village power in Sub Saharan Africa, energy efficiency for businesses in Peru and decentralised energy access in rural India.

Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “Our study shows that with the right incentives and support, business-to-business partnerships can be a valuable tool to mitigate climate change, build resilience, and alleviate poverty, a win-win-win! We are delighted that this has led to four pilot projects around the world to help further test the concept and build the evidence base.”


Mike Barry wins the Dragons' Den

11th September 2014

Mike Barry, Director of Sustainable Business at M&S, was voted the winner at the Aldersgate Group's UN Climate Summit Dragons Den. The event heard from a series of business leaders who met the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s challenge to make bold pledges to close the emissions gap and deliver a low carbon economy.

He said: “There is no single thing that governments can work out in a smoke filled room in New York, Paris or anywhere else that will change business. Governments have to invite business to the table to work with them".

"My challenge is that governments should invite the big industrial sectors of the global economy to come to Paris in 15 months time to show how they are going to reduce by 80% the carbon in their business models, in their supply chains and operations and consumer use of their products. Also, they need to turn up with a plan to show how they are going to scale that across the millions of companies within their sectors.”

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Business supports Government commitment on fourth carbon budget

22nd July 2014

The Aldersgate Group has supported an announcement by DECC Secretary of State, Ed Davey, that the Government will not amend the Fourth Carbon Budget. The budget covers the period 2023 to 2027 and will stay at its existing level of 1950 MtCO2 equivalent.  

Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: "Mainstream businesses warmly welcome the Government's commitment to the Fourth Carbon Budget. This provides greater certainty for long-term investments in the low carbon technologies that can provide a backbone to growth, jobs and competitiveness. 

"The global race to develop and adopt low carbon solutions will help define prosperity in the twenty-first century. This is an important step to ensure that the UK's overall policy framework maximises the economic opportunities of the transition."

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Energy bills should “shine a light” on carbon emissions

9th July 2014

Some of the UK’s largest businesses have today called on the Government to simplify how organisations report the carbon emissions associated with the energy that they purchase.  A survey of energy professionals finds that there is confusion about current Government policy, leading a number of businesses to question the benefit of so-called “green” tariffs. A number of inconsistencies provide relatively weak and complex signals, leading some Boards to retreat from investing in renewable technologies.

The report, Enable the Label, was written by energy experts Utilyx and commissioned by a steering group that comprises the Aldersgate Group, BT, EY, HSBC, Reed Elsevier, Sky and the Retail Energy Forum. The report recommends that businesses speak to their energy supplier to adopt an electricity label and help to transform the energy market.

Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “Customers have a right to know the ingredients of the product they are buying, but this is not the case in the energy market. Energy bills must pass the ‘horsemeat test’. Most buyers are unable to determine if the electricity they are purchasing is from renewables, nuclear, gas or coal.”


No evidence to support revision of the 4th Carbon Budget

6th July 2014

The Aldersgate Group have welcomed a new report by LSE on how UK carbon policies affect the competitiveness of businesses. It finds that arguments in favour of revising the Fourth Carbon Budget, based on concerns about competitiveness, are not supported by the evidence. Existing data suggest that the impact of current policies is small or negligible, dwarfed by a range of other economic factors.

Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: "LSE's comprehensive analysis of carbon policies supports the mainstream view of British business that current UK carbon policies do not have a major negative impact on competitiveness. It also demonstrates the beneficial impact of smart environmental policies on potential growth and productivity performance of the UK’s economy as a whole relative to other trading partners. This provides yet more evidence to the call from business leaders for Government to accept the 4th carbon budget without any further delay or uncertainty."

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