UK business giants put fresh pressure on government over net-zero
BT, Coca-Cola European Partners and Sainsbury's are among a coalition of 128 UK-based businesses, industry networks and investors to have written to Ministers demanding that a net-zero target for 2050 is legislated "immediately".
The letter was sent to Prime Minister Theresa May today (31 May) and is being convened by The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG), the Aldersgate Group, and the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC).
Collectively, the letter’s 128 signatories represent more than seven million workers and £20trn in assets under management across 190,000 businesses.
The document calls on the Government to adopt the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC’s) recommendations on legislating for a net-zero carbon economy by 2050 in full, with immediate effect.
“By being the first major economy to legislate an ambitious, domestically achieved net-zero target supported by a comprehensive policy package, the UK can show leadership on a global level while strengthening the UK economy,” the letter states.
“This action would position the country as a strong host, as the UK bids for COP26 – a critical moment in global action to tackle climate change and an opportunity to leave a legacy of clean growth across the UK. However, the credibility of a net-zero target relies on it being rapidly underpinned by a robust set of policies.”
The letter points out that many of its signatories have aligned themselves with the Paris Agreement, either by setting science-based emissions targets or pledging to achieve net-zero by mid-century, and urges the Government to follow suit. This move, the letter states, would help businesses deliver the “innovation and investment required” for a zero-carbon economy while ensuring that the low-carbon transition is “delivered fairly”.
Today’s letter is one of many to have been sent by businesses to policymakers to demand net-zero legislation since last October, when the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its landmark report on climate change. Last November, the bosses of Anglian Water, Coca-Cola European Partners, Danone, IAG, Interface, Scottish Power, Signify UK & Ireland, SSE, Thames Water Utilities and Unilever sent such a document to May’s office, while similar requests have also been penned to EU leaders.
The push for net-zero legislation has also been coming from MPs, with a group of more than 100 from across all major parties having requested pre-2050 climate-neutral policies before the IPCC even published its findings. Calls from the general public are additionally mounting, with the main demand of protestors during London’s recent Extinction Rebellion activism being net-zero by 2025 for the UK.
This week has seen a strengthening of these demands on May, who is due to step down from her post on 7 June after announcing her resignation last week. In tandem with the letter from the business community, a group of leading scientists have written to the Prime Minister arguing that her “legacy” could - and should - be the passing of net-zero legislation, rather than her failure to pass a Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
Responding to the letters, a Government spokesperson said that a decision on the CCC’s recommendation will be made "in a timeframe which reflects the urgency of the issue".