New business-led taskforce to help UK’s private sector reach net-zero

The Taskforce is being headed by the chief executive of Drax Group's B2B energy supply business. Pictured: Drax's North Yorkshire power station 

Convened by Business in the Community (BITC) and launched today (12 June), the ‘Net-Zero Carbon Taskforce’ has also garnered support from EDF Energy, Lloyds Banking Group, Eco-Act, the Environment Agency (EA) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

These member organisations will work collaboratively to develop an open-source net-zero toolkit, detailing the actions businesses can take to reach net-zero in their own operations during or before 2050, and to encourage other actors in their sectors’ value chains to follow suit. This resource will then be used to create a “roadmap” for the business contribution to a net-zero transition.

The Taskforce will be chaired by the chief executive of Drax Group’s B2B energy supply business Jonathan Kini, who said the aim of the initiative is to “identify the simplest, most effective actions businesses can take” to create an ambitious and ‘just’ low-carbon transition.

“The barriers to sustainability vary from business to business – I know from conversations with our customers that making improvements often appears unnecessarily complicated,” Kini explained.

“We want to break down those barriers and make the solutions simpler to implement, so UK businesses can quickly and easily take effective steps to address the climate crisis.”

Drax is notably working with Equinor and National Grid Ventures – the National Grid Group’s commercial arm – to develop a large-scale zero-carbon industrial cluster, featuring carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) technology, in Humber. The facility is due for completion during the mid-2020s. 

‘A historic moment’

The launch of the taskforce comes less than 24 hours after Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that Parliament will implement the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) in creating a legally binding net-zero carbon target for 2050.

Under a statutory instrument due to be laid in Parliament today (12 June), the UK’s Climate Change Act 2008 will be amended to legally bind the UK to delivering a 100% reduction in its net carbon emissions, against a 1990 baseline, up from an original 80% target.

How the UK actually plans to reach net-zero emissions will need to be set out but May has already confirmed that the UK will be using international carbon offsetting during the transition – against the advice of the CCC.

Key figures from across the UK’s green economy have welcomed the Government’s move on the issue, which comes after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) research concluding that global carbon emissions will need to reach net-zero by mid-century to limit the global temperature increase below 1.5C.

Indeed, business leaders have been vocally lobbying for this change in legislation.  Last month, a coalition of 128 UK-based businesses, industry networks and investors wrote to Ministers demanding that a net-zero target for 2050 is legislated “immediately” and were told such moves would be made “in a timeframe which reflects the urgency of the issue”. Moreover, some firms, including the likes of BT, Skanska UK and Interface, had already set their own net-zero goals for 2050 or sooner.

“Business must be at the forefront of the transformation we need, bringing the innovation and entrepreneurial flair to accelerate change,” BITC’s environment director Goodrun Cartwright said.

What is the role of business in delivering a net-zero carbon future?

To mark the UK’s net-zero announcement, BITC’s Cartwright has penned an exclusive blog for edie detailing some key steps which businesses of all sizes and sectors can take to completely decarbonise their operations and the systems they work within. You can read that blog in full here

edie will also be hosting a bespoke Q&A webinar on the same topic on Thursday 27 June at 1pm BST. This webinar, hosted in association with Ørsted, will bring together climate policy and business energy experts to discuss how the business energy landscape could and should change between now and 2050. For full information and free registration, click here

Sarah George

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