Business leaders put pressure on Boris Johnson over next net-zero steps
Members of the Aldersgate Group have today (1 August) jointly sent a green policy manifesto to new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, outlining the next steps they'd like him to take on bolstering the UK's 2050 net-zero target.
The manifesto, entitled ‘building a competitive, net-zero emissions and climate-ready economy’, outlines four measures which members of the Group – including the likes of BT, Tesco and Sky – believe will accelerate the UK’s decarbonisation progress while boosting environmental protections and growing the economy.
Introducing a “Clean Growth Strategy Plus” is the first of the manifesto’s asks, with signatories stating that such a policy would update the Government’s existing framework in line with a net-zero trajectory by mid-century. For this policy to meet the Aldersgate Group’s recommendations, the manifesto states, it should include binding energy efficiency targets and fiscal incentives for buildings as well as a tightening of emission standards for road transport.
The second manifesto recommendation is for ministers to introduce an “ambitious” Environment Bill “without delay”. The draft Bill was published in January, outlining the powers and limitations of the nation’s new post-Brexit watchdog for green standards – but has been widely criticised for excluding certain Government departments and types of landowners. The Aldersgate Group is, therefore, urging Ministers to develop a final Bill which will prevent the ambition of the UK’s environmental policy frameworks dipping below those of the EU, including legally binding targets for key measures other than decarbonisation.
Third on the manifesto list are measures to ensure that the Government’s recently published Green Finance Strategy results in tangible impact across the national finance sector. These include making reporting in line with the Task Force on Climate-Related Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations mandatory for large businesses in the mid-2020s.
The manifesto’s final recommendation is the “rapid implementation” of measures outlined in the Resources and Waste Strategy, including a national deposit-return scheme for plastic drinks bottles; greater Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for companies which manufacture hard-to-recycle goods like mattresses and fishing gear; and forcing packaging producers to pay the full net costs of disposal of products they place on the market – up from just 10% at present.
The Aldersgate Group’s executive director Nick Molho said that the manifesto comes at a time when the new Government must focus on the delivery of its net-zero goal.
“If the UK is to attract the large volume of affordable private sector investment required to deliver its environmental and climate ambitions and strengthen its competitive advantage in these fast-growing areas of the global economy, Johnson’s government needs to rapidly flesh out a plan of action for the decade ahead,” Molho said.
The Aldersgate Group currently represents more than 50 organisations from across the private, public and non-profit spaces, including Orsted, Siemens, Willmott Dixon and Cemex.
Earlier this week, Johnson pledged to place climate change at the “absolute core” of the Government’s actions during his first appearance in the House of Commons as Prime Minister.
The Time is Now
In related news, a coalition of celebrities has this week penned a letter to Johnson asking him to “confirm that he will make tackling the climate emergency a top priority” and provide the policy changes necessary to put the UK on track for net-zero emissions by 2050.
Convened by NGO The Climate Coalition, the letter has been signed by the likes of Ellie Goulding, Charles Dance, James Norton and Iwan Rheon. Environmental journalist Lucy Siegle and nature presenter Konnie Huq are also signatories.
The specific actions being recommended by the letter’s signatories include prioritising the decarbonisation of Britain’s housing stocks – following similar calls from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) – and bringing the 2040 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars forward to 2030.
Tripling the nation’s wind and solar generation capacity by 2030 and taking up the CCC’s recommendations on afforestation and rewilding is also noted. According to the CCC, targets of planting 20,000 hectares annually should be established as soon as possible and should then increase to 27,000 hectares per annum. To put that ambition into context, the UK has planted less than 10,000 hectares on average over the past five years.
“There is no greater risk to life on earth than climate change,” the letter states.
“Taking ambitious action to end our contribution to climate change is essential to protect all species and the ecosystems that we all depend upon for survival.”
The letter forms part of The Climate Coalition’s ‘The Time Is Now’ campaign, which aims to unite businesses, charities, academics, celebrities and members of the general public in holding national policymakers to account over climate challenges. ‘The Time is Now’ launched last month with a mass demonstration in Westminster, attended by more than 12,000 people.Sarah George