Business groups call on Prime Minister to set Paris Agreement commitment by end of year

The groups are calling for a fresh emissions goal to be set for 2030

The COP26 climate summit – a two-week negotiation aimed at delivering higher global commitments to combatting the climate crisis – was meant to have started this week.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson postponed COP26 Climate conference as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. It has been moved to 1-12 November 2021. While the UK has pledged to lead and coordinate heightened climate action amongst states, one key piece of legislative infrastructure is missing in the build-up to next year’s summit.

The UK will still have to submit a new Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), which were emission reduction pledges for 2030 that were created for the Paris Agreement in 2015. The UK’s original NDC was submitted as part of the European Union and while pushing towards an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050, rather than the new net-zero target that has since been enshrined into law.

In response, business groups including The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group, the Aldersgate Group, Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, UK Green Building Council, The B Team, We Mean Business, UK Business Council for Sustainable Development have called for the NDC to be published before the end of the year. The groups are calling for the NDC to be aligned to the UK’s net-zero target for 2050.

In a letter to the UK Prime Minister, business groups highlighted that the NDC should form part of an inclusive delivery plan supported by all Government departments. The groups also believe that the NDC can spur the UK’s own green recovery efforts by improving job creation and green growth opportunities.

The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group’s director Eliot Whittington said: “In committing to a substantial 2030 emissions target the UK Government will not only send a powerful signal to other nations on the level of ambition expected for COP26, it will also secure the UK’s leadership position on climate change and the vital need for a green recovery.

“We hope that this message will only grow as more and more businesses add their voice to this call for an ambitious commitment.”

The business groups join academics, religious groups, politicians and youth activists in writing to Johnson to call for a 2030 emissions target.

The business groups have welcomed the Government’s decision to publish a comprehensive Net-Zero Strategy in the lead up to COP26. The Government is confident that this strategy will create “new business opportunities and up to two million green jobs by 2030 across all regions of the UK”.

The Government’s climate advisory group, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has pushed back a report on the UK’s sixth carbon budget to December, as the dates for the carbon budget are in near alignment with the required timeframe for the NDC, it could be that the advise is used to form the NDC.

The business groups are also calling for the NDC commitment to support the businesses that have set their own net-zero targets. Many of the business members supporting the letter have signed the Business Ambition for 1.5 pledge, for example. The businesses argue that the NDC would help them in terms of market shifts and lowering the costs of low-carbon solutions.

The Aldersgate Group’s executive director Nick Molho added: “Having an ambitious NDC in place will crucially strengthen the UK’s leadership role ahead of COP26 and galvanise international ambition for decarbonisation ahead of this important summit.

“With increased commitments from countries with a large share of global emissions such as China, it is now key that the UK remains a leader on climate action, with a strengthened NDC in line with the Committee on Climate Change’s advice, and backed by a comprehensive domestic plan to deliver its climate targets. This will put the UK credibly on track to meet its climate ambitions and deliver a sustainable economic recovery, whilst sending a powerful investment signal to mobilise private finance.”

Matt Mace

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