As part of its work on the Red Tape Challenge, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has announced it is scrapping 86 regulations and improving another 48, while maintaining strong environmental and consumer protection.
Terry A'Hearn, who heads up the Aldersgate Group workstream on regulation, commented:
"We welcome the Government's work in cutting back excessive and outdated regulation, whilst ensuring that protection of our environment remains as strong as ever. Smart regulation corrects market failures, drives innovation and provides the foundation for long-term economic growth, jobs and competitiveness and we congratulate DECC's recognition of the importance of prioritising these long-term outcomes."
To read DECC's press release, click here.
A survey of energy experts from the UK’s largest businesses finds that only 5% of respondents expect the UK’s energy prices to be less than its competitor economies in 2015, with 62% expecting them to be higher. This is due to a lack of investment in new generating capacity to replace decommissioned coal-fired power stations. The survey was undertaken by Green Monday in partnership with the Aldersgate Group.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “The rising costs of energy in the UK are a major concern for businesses and households. The corporate survey demonstrates that it is the price of fossil fuels, not green policies, that will have the biggest impact on rising bills. These findings are consistent with Government analysis which finds that recent energy bill increases are primarily due to increased wholesale gas costs.”
“The cheapest way to address this challenge is to reduce demand. There must be much more focus on incentivising consumers and businesses to use less energy rather than investing in expensive new supply.”
For coverage in the Telegraph, click here.
Responding to the Committee on Climate Change's 2012 Progress Report, Aldersgate Group Chairman, Peter Young, said that more action is needed on the low carbon agenda.
"With low carbon policies estimated at delivering only a quarter of that required to meet future carbon budgets, the days of discussing options for a step change in growing the UK low carbon economy are over. Implementation must start now with the focus on action and delivery.
Our emergence from austerity risks bringing us slow brown growth not the fast green growth that would deliver future carbon budgets."
In an article for The Learning Rep, the flagship skills publication of the TUC and Unionlearn, the Aldersgate Group lead on skills, John Edmonds, has said that it is crucial not to abandon re-skilling opportunities for the existing workforce in favour of investing exclusively in the next generation. He said the current workforce should have an "opportunity of changing direction, of taking on new skills, or preparing for the new economy".
The Aldersgate Group has welcomed plans by the Government to ensure that London Stock Exchange companies will be required to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions in their annual reports. This follows a four year campaign from the Aldersgate Group which drafted the original amendments to the Climate Change Act and wrote to Nick Clegg last month to demand an urgent decision before the Rio+20 Earth Summit.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director for the Aldersgate Group, said: "Our members strongly welcome the introduction of mandatory carbon reporting following extensive input into the process. This is an area where corporate executives have been demanding more regulation from government to provide greater clarity and transparency. This announcement should pave the way to extend the requirements to all large companies in due course and demonstrates genuine UK leadership on reporting at the Rio+20 Earth Summit."
In a speech to the RSA, AG Member Lord Chris Smith criticises those in the green movement who oppose all growth and praises big business that has already recognised the benefits of green growth and sustainable production. And he makes a robust defence of the role for good regulation in setting a level playing field, supporting innovation and reducing pollution.
His strongest criticism is reserved for those in the Republican Party in the USA, such as Sarah Palin, who have overseen the "disastrous politicisation" of climate change and prevented action, while welcoming the cross-party action on climate change in the UK.
In an article in the Environmentalist (here), Tim Yeo MP and Peter Young, Aldersgate Group Chairman, consider the progress of the coalition on meeting its pledge to be the greenest government ever after two years. It debates both the positives and the negatives, concluding that more progress needs to be made in the next three years.
This must include more champions across Whitehall. "You can see why the Treasury's focus is on the deficit, and that's only right; but it shouldn't ignore long-term success" says Tim Yeo.
The Aldersgate Group (AG) has welcomed a new report by the Energy and Climate Change Committee on 'Consumption-Based Emissions Reporting'.
Chris Tuppen, Director of the AG and a witness to the inquiry, said: "Just as companies are being encouraged to report their carbon emissions across their supply chain, so should governments. This would help to influence the overall purchasing behaviours of organisations and inform policy decisions at all levels. We welcome the Committee’s recommendation that the Government should explore the ways in which it can incorporate consumption-based emissions data into its policy making process."
Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Caroline Flint, moved an Opposition debate in the House of Commons on 5th March on jobs and growth in a low-carbon economy. For further information click here.
The motion called on the Government to bring forward an active industrial strategy for low-carbon growth by providing a stable policy framework to unlock private investment, improving public procurement, developing a low-carbon skills strategy and encourage manufacturing. This followed a speech Caroline Flint gave at the Aldersgate Group, cited in the Commons debate, that outlined the details for such a strategy.
In addition, Vince Cable gave a speech on the 27th Feb on the next step's for an industrial strategy and what role the Government can, and should, play in relation to specific sectors, technologies, and public procurement. For further information, click here.
Following the news that Chris Huhne has resigned from Cabinet, the Guardian has reported that he won plaudits from many in the green movement who saw him fight for his department, DECC, against sceptics in the Treasury and secure vital funds for key projects despite dismal government finances.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: "His biggest success has been winning the argument with cabinet colleagues on the fourth carbon budget [which strengthened the UK's carbon-cutting targets up to 2027] – demonstrating that ambitious carbon cuts through the 2020s can benefit both the environment and the economy. He has also managed to get major concessions from the Treasury regarding the green investment bank, ensuring that it will have £3bn in initial funding in spite of severe fiscal constraints."
For full article, click here.
AG Director, Chris Tuppen, has advised MPs that the UK should seek to develop the reporting and accountability of its consumption emissions to supplement the carbon budgets (which are measured on a production basis). Appearing as a witness to the Energy and Climate Change Committee, he said that this "would be complementary to how the Government encourage businesses and organisations to report their carbon emissions".
The AG has formally responded to DECC's Red Tape Challenge, emphasising the need to focus on regulatory outcomes to drive growth in the long term. The AG has argued that a streamlined approach can reduce business costs, for example by reforming climate change and energy efficiency legislation.
Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group has described the Chancellor's Autumn Statement as "a missed opportunity". He said:
"The Chancellor blames the rise of energy and commodity prices for damaging growth, but has not done enough to ensure the economy is more resilient to these threats. He is also wrong to claim that environmental regulation is a burden and cost on British business; it is a fundamental driver for growth of tomorrow's businesses and our future global competitiveness. Green policy should have been at the heart of the growth strategy, reducing our dependence on increasingly volatile global resource markets, stimulating investment and creating jobs."
The Autumn Statement revised projections for the UK's economy downwards in line with the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR)'s projections and acknowledged that it will not be possible to eradicate the UK's structural deficit by the end of this Parliament.
Mary Creagh, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, referenced the Aldersgate Group's (AG) study into the costs and benefits of carbon reporting in a Parliamentary debate on green growth yesterday. She said that "taking just one of the options, option 3, Aldersgate found that DEFRA had overestimated the total costs by up to £4.6 billion and underestimated the benefits by £980 million."
Click here to view the full transcript.
The Aldersgate Group (AG) welcomes a new BIS publication, "Skills for a Green Economy", which demonstrates the Government's recognition of the importance of training and skills in managing the transition to a resource efficient economy. Particularly, the report reflects a similar assessment of Britain's skills requirements with the AG's 2010 publication, Mind the Gap (see right).
John Edmonds, who leads the AG's workstream on skills, said: "The challenge for the Government is now to move from analysis to delivery. This will mean facing up to the central policy dilemma which is graphically described by BIS.
"At the moment Britain's skills policy is demand led. This requires British business to give clear messages to training providers. However "Skills for a Green Economy" recognises that many businesses are very uncertain about their future skill needs. To help resolve this problem, BIS argues sensibly for the provision of more readily available information to guide business decision makers but, given the size of the task and the need for early action, there is a case for the Government also considering a more interventionist approach."
The Aldersgate Group (AG) was referenced three times in the Environmental Audit Committee's (EAC) Carbon Budgets report: 1) The AG's recommendation that greater transparency of the UK's total carbon footprint would enable the carbon budgets to manage global climate change more effectively; 2) The AG's suggestion that to improve delivery of the carbon budgets, an independent body should monitor progress against the Carbon Plan and link the achievement of targets to annual performance reviews of senior civil servants; 3) The AG's view that when taking into account reasons for the geographical shift in manufacturing production, carbon leakage is only a genuine threat to a limited number of sectors.
To read the full report and AG's evidence, please see right.
Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group joined a panel alongside the South African Ambassador at Large, at the Business for Environment Global Summit to discuss "Transforming policy to scale up green growth."
He highlighted the importance of leveraging private investment to address political and institutional risks, so that the market can address the technical risks, which it understands. "It's the political and institutional risk which is scaring off investors."
View the whole debate here.
Two Aldersgate Group (AG) Directors have been appointed to advisory groups that will make recommendations on the Government's better regulation agenda. Peter Young, AG Chairman, has been appointed in a personal capacity to the Defra Strategic Regulatory Scrutiny Panel which has been tasked with challenging and advising Defra on the way it thinks about regulation. In addition, Andrew Raingold, Executive Director, will sit on the Sounding Board for the Red Tape Challenge Environment Theme that is also being convened by Defra and will scrutinise regulatory proposals. The AG seeks to ensure that regulatory reform is primarily concerned with the effective achievement of outcomes, while reducing administrative burdens and maximising innovation potential.
Peter Young said: "I welcome Defra’s initiative in bringing outside scrutiny and expertise to work closely with officials to achieve the objective of what the Aldersgate Group has coined 'best value regulation'. I think it reflects our constructive dialogue and capacity to add value to policy reform that Andrew and I have been selected for these appointments and I look forward to extending my personal relationships within Defra further through this important work.’
Commenting on the launch of "Enabling the Transition to a Green Economy", Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group and member of the Green Economy Council said: "I have no hesitation in welcoming this suite of reports; the breadth and clarity of government commitment is exactly the kind of coherent policy making we have long argued for. The opportunity for the Green Economy Council to build on the government commitments and the businesses challenges laid out are encouraging for the future competitiveness of the UK.
"However the limp launch and lack of explicit endorsement by Number 10 and 11 is a warning that whilst the report rightly sets out to transform our whole economy, until the whole Government is visibly supporting this aim, the risk remains that more visionary leaders will steal the green economy race from right under our noses."
To see Andrew Raingold (Executive Director)'s article on Guardian Sustainable Business, click here.
AG's new lead for best-value regulation, Terry A'Hearn, calls for smarter regulation that would cut costs, simplify compliance, and spark “genuine business sustainability innovation”. In an article in ENDS, Terry draws on his 20 years’ experience in the Australian state of Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority (EPAV) to argue for the introduction of an "environmental driving license" and greater use of civil sanctions.
Reproduced with permission of The ENDS Report, the UK journal and website for environmental business and policy.