Theresa May named as new Aldersgate Group chair

Image: Raul Mee / EU2017EE. CC-BY-2.0. 

May is replacing Joan Walley, former Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent, who had acted as chair since 2015. Walley has completed a two-term period of office and each chair of the Group is permitted a maximum of two consecutive terms.

In a statement released today (19 July), the Aldersgate Group pointed to a number of green policy milestones delivered during May’s time as Prime Minister. The decision to enshrine the UK’s net-zero target for 2050 in law was one of May’s last major acts before she stepped down as Conservative Party leader in 2019 and came following extensive engagement work with the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee. Her approach was to amend the Climate Change Act from its original 2008 form, which committed the UK to reducing net emissions by 80% between 1990 and 2050.

Also during May’s tenure, the 25-Year Environment Plan was published, laying the foundations for the Environment Bill; as was the Clean Growth Strategy.

May said in a statement that she is keen to use her new role to champion the business case for not only the net-zero transition, but for nature-based climate solutions and for the circular economy.

She said: “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.”

The Aldersgate Group’s executive director Nick Molho added: “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.”

At the time of May’s resignation as Conservative Party leader, edie published a feature outlining her impact on the UK’s green policy landscape. You can read that article here.

The announcement comes as the Aldersgate Group is welcoming a string of new members including Mitie, the Co-operative Group, Wessex Water, CMS and Octopus Energy. Collectively, its members now represent a collective global turnover of more than £550bn.

The Group’s most recent publication came last week, focussing on the circular economy. The paper, entitled  ‘Closing the Loop: Time to Crack on with Resource Efficiency’, expresses concerns with the delayed implementation of the Resources and Waste Strategy – the first major update to policy in this field for more than a decade. It outlines the opportunities the transition to a circular economy could bring beyond resource efficiency, including job creation, upskilling and decarbonisation.

Sarah George   

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