Theresa May appointed new Chair of the Aldersgate Group


Today, the Aldersgate Group announces the appointment of the Rt Hon Theresa May MP as its new Chair, with effect from Tuesday 20 July 2021. She will take over from former Labour MP Joan Walley, who has chaired the Aldersgate Group for the last six years. Theresa May will support the Group’s ongoing work on the delivery of the UK’s net zero emissions and nature restoration targets and ensure the UK can build a globally thriving green economy in the process.

The appointment comes as the Aldersgate Group welcomes new business members from the facilities, retail, water, legal and energy sectors, and is involved in three major projects on green finance, resources and waste, and industrial decarbonisation.  

The Aldersgate Group is delighted to announce the appointment of Theresa May as its new Chair, as the organisation looks forward to a critical year for the climate, environmental and economic recovery agenda.

The appointment is a landmark moment for the Group, whose members include leading businesses, NGOs, professional institutes, and academic institutions. The former Prime Minister and MP for Maidenhead will bring immense leadership to the role and a commitment to driving action for an environmentally sustainable, net zero emissions and competitive economy.

As Prime Minister, Theresa May enacted the UK’s landmark commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050, making the UK the first major economy to enshrine this target in law. She also oversaw the publication of the Clean Growth Strategy and the decision to end unabated coal-fired electricity generation in the UK by 2025, both of which are helping accelerate emission cuts in the power sector and driving the growth of renewable generation such as wind and solar.

On the environment, her Government published the 25 Year Environment Plan, which provided an ambitious framework to protect and restore the natural world within a generation, a vision which is now in the process of being enshrined in the Environment Bill currently going through Parliament.

Theresa May will assume her role on 20 July 2021. She will be handed the baton by current chair, former Labour MP Joan Walley, who has completed a two-term period of office and been an asset for the Group since 2015.

Today’s announcement comes at a significant moment for the Aldersgate Group, with the organisation welcoming new members from the facilities management, retail, water, legal and energy sectors including Mitie, the Co-operative Group, Wessex Water, CMS and Octopus Energy. Their expertise and insight will bolster the Group’s knowledge base across a range of important sectors where the Aldersgate Group is driving policy change to support more rapid cuts in emissions and actions to restore the natural environment.

The Aldersgate Group is as active as ever in this crucial time for the climate and environmental agenda, with ongoing work to support the delivery of the UK’s net zero and nature restoration targets and green economic recovery ambitions. The Group is working on three major projects ahead of the crucial COP26 climate summit, focused on the future of green finance [1], resources and waste [2], and accelerating the decarbonisation of heavy industry [3].

Theresa May, incoming Chair of the Aldersgate Group and MP for Maidenhead, said: “I am joining the Aldersgate Group to champion the business case for decarbonising the UK economy, improving resource efficiency, and investing in the restoration of nature because we are at a crucial crossroad for our climate and the environment. As Prime Minister, I was proud to lead the UK to be the first major economy to enshrine the net-zero emissions target into law and publish a strategy to overturn the decline in nature within a generation. It is vital we now accelerate our progress towards these ambitious targets and develop clear delivery plans.”

Joan Walley, outgoing Chair of the Aldersgate Group, said: “It’s been a privilege to lead the Aldersgate Group as Chair for the last six years. I am proud of the contribution we have made on setting the zero carbon and nature recovery agenda. I am delighted to leave a legacy that puts the organisation in a strong position, with membership at its highest since the Group was formed and exciting new reports on key policy areas on the horizon. I have no doubt that under Theresa May’s leadership, the Group will go from strength to strength and play a key role in leading the conversation on climate and the environment and driving ambitious policy in the critical years to come.”

Nick Molho, Executive Director, Aldersgate Group, said: “We are delighted to welcome Theresa May as our new Chair at this critical time for the Group and the environmental agenda. Decisions made in the next few years will determine whether the UK economy is on a credible pathway towards net zero emissions and whether the country is on track for overturning the decline in its natural environment within a generation. Mrs May’s unrivalled experience and her passion for the climate, environmental and clean growth agenda will be a huge asset to the organisation. As a Group, we would like to give our profound thanks to our outgoing Chair Joan Walley who has been an inspiring leader and a key part of the Aldersgate Group’s success over the past six years.”

Peter Simpson, Chief Executive, Anglian Water, said: “I’m delighted to welcome the appointment of the Rt Hon Theresa May MP as the Aldersgate Group’s new chair.  As long-time Aldersgate supporters, I look forward to working with her and other members to promote the strong environmental consensus there is amongst leading businesses and civil society groups.  I would also like to congratulate Joan Walley as she comes to the end of her very successful term.  The Aldersgate Group goes from strength to strength, and under Theresa’s leadership, the Aldersgate Group will be a decisive voice in shaping policy for the net zero age.”

Mark Versey, Chief Executive Officer, Aviva Investors, said: “Theresa May’s experience and longstanding commitment to the environment, including legislating the UK’s world leading net-zero target, will be invaluable and we look forward to working with her.”

Sergio Menendez, EMEAA Regional President, CEMEX, said: “CEMEX is delighted to welcome the Rt Hon Theresa May MP as the new Chair of the Aldersgate Group. In taking up this appointment, it shows to policy makers and wider society in the clearest way possible why it is vital that both government and businesses keep focused on delivering net zero emissions and other vital sustainability goals.”

Ece Ozdemiroglu, Founding Director, Eftec, said: “Theresa May’s arrival as Chair will boost the Aldersgate Group’s contribution to delivery of the legally binding net zero target and 25 Year Environment Plan, which are key parts of the legacy of her premiership. This combination of respected leadership and credible implementation across the Group’s diverse membership is needed to give confidence to investors in net zero, climate adaption and new environmental markets across all sectors of the economy.”

Michelle Scrimgeour, CEO, Legal and General Investment Management, said: “Climate change is not just an urgent issue for society, but also a significant investment opportunity. As business leaders, we can align our influence and financial might, collaborating with other companies and policy-makers, including through the Aldersgate Group, to help accelerate the net zero ambition, producing positive sustainable economic and environmental returns. This is inclusive capitalism in action.”

Duncan Clark, Head of UK Region, Ørsted, said: “The economic and job creation opportunities created by the net zero target are significant and we are working hard in the offshore wind sector to skill up and grow domestic supply chains. We would like to congratulate Theresa May on her new role and look forward to working with her and the team at Aldersgate Group to maximise the benefits of the net zero transition across the UK.”

Beccy Speight, Chief Executive, RSPB, said: “As a long-standing member of the Aldersgate group, we’re pleased to welcome Theresa May as its new Chair. Aligning economic policy with the huge steps we must all take to address the climate and nature emergency will be fundamental over the coming decade and beyond. The work of the Aldersgate Group is vital in bringing both NGO and business voices together to find solutions to the emergency facing our natural world and to make a shared case for the legal and policy frameworks needed. Its work in helping to shape and influence those policies with urgency, bringing together organisations who share this mission has never been more important and we look forward to working together to secure a healthier future for us all.”

Carl Ennis, CEO, Siemens plc, said: “I am delighted to welcome Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP as Chair of the Aldersgate Group.  An ambitious, co-ordinated and accelerated approach to the climate and environmental agenda is critical if the UK is to reach a timely, equitable and economically beneficial net zero emissions future. As an experienced and respected figure, Theresa May will be an effective ambassador for this vital work.”

John Scanlon, Chief Executive Officer for SUEZ recycling and recovery UK said: “With Glasgow hosting COP26 this autumn, all eyes are on the UK to lead the way in combatting climate change. Protecting our environment goes to the very heart of our work at SUEZ and only an ambitious environmental agenda can bring about the systemic change needed to create a resource efficient economy. Aldersgate recognised early on that environmental sustainability and economic prosperity are intrinsically linked and that for our nation to thrive we need policies that can credibly deliver on both counts. In this pivotal year for our environment and our economy, I’m delighted to welcome Theresa May as Chair of the Aldersgate Group and look forward to working with her and the Aldersgate team to tackle our environmental challenges.”

Rick Willmott, Group Chief Executive, Willmott Dixon, said: “We warmly welcome Theresa May as the new Chair of the Aldersgate Group.  At Willmott Dixon, last year we announced what we believe are the construction industry’s most ambitious sustainability targets to 2030 because we see that putting net zero and green growth at the heart of our business is core to our continued development and success.

“The work of the Aldersgate Group in shaping policies that tackle environmental challenges helps drive investment in projects, innovation, skills and supply chains. Around 350,000 new roles in construction could be created by putting the UK economy on track for net zero emissions by 2050.”

Tanya Steele, CEO, WWF-UK said: “It is great to see the appointment of Theresa May as Chair of the Aldersgate Group.  As a former Prime Minister, she will bring to the group enormous experience and a clear understanding of the scale of ambition required if both governments and businesses are to deliver the cuts in emissions needed to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

This could not be a more important year in the fight to restore the planet, our one shared home, and the UK has a central role to play as host of COP26. I look forward to continuing to work with the Aldersgate Group in the mission to build a low-carbon, nature-positive economy, the only route to long-term prosperity.”


In line with the government’s Business Appointment Rules, Mrs May consulted the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments before taking up the appointment of Chair at The Aldersgate Group. This position is a voluntary role.

[1] The Aldersgate Group recently released a report exploring the next steps for the UK’s green finance strategy. To find out more, you can access the full publication here: Financing the future: Driving investment for net zero and nature restoration. The report was launched at a webinar with Economic Secretary John Glen MP on 22 June 2021.

[2] The Aldersgate Group published its latest report, Closing the Loop: Time to Crack on with Resource Efficiency,  on 15 July 2021. The report, which was launched at a webinar with Chair of the Environmental Audit Select Committee Philip Dunne MP, assesses recent progress in England’s resources and waste policy and puts forward a number of recommendations to drive greater resource efficiency across the economy.

[3] The Aldersgate Group will publish two major reports in early September, setting out key policy recommendations to accelerate the decarbonisation of heavy industry, lower industrial electricity prices and support industrial competitiveness in the process. These have been commissioned from UCL and Frontier Economics.