Next government must deliver on climate and the environment
21st November 2019
Today the Aldersgate Group publishes its manifesto report, Time for action: building a competitive and inclusive green economy, setting out key priorities for the new government following the General Election. The report – which received significant input from business and civil society organisations – calls for the next government to deliver a step change in policy ambition to put the UK on a credible pathway to achieve net zero emissions and urgently reverse the decline in the state of the natural environment.
Policy decisions over the next five years will have a critical impact on whether the UK is on track to deliver its net zero target and broader environmental ambitions. They will also determine whether UK businesses can be placed in a competitive position as global efforts to cut emissions intensify. Growing public concern about climate and environmental issues has been matched by cross-economy business calls for more ambitious action, as demonstrated by a letter signed by over 130 businesses earlier this year calling on Prime Minister Theresa May to legislate for a net zero target .
The Aldersgate Group manifesto argues that tackling climate change and environmental degradation should therefore be a central priority for the new government and sit at the heart of the UK’s economic policy. The next five years should also be about accelerating innovation in low carbon technologies and business models, supporting the UK’s economic competitiveness during the net zero transition and driving job creation as industries evolve and new supply chains are created.
The Aldersgate Group manifesto calls for the next government to:
- Put the UK on a credible pathway to achieve net zero emissions, by publishing a targeted update of the Clean Growth Strategy well ahead of the COP26 climate summit. This should include new policies to drive rapid emission cuts in sectors such as buildings and road transport, complete the decarbonisation of the power sector and deliver large scale trials of critical technologies needed to decarbonise industry, long-distance transport and the provision of heat;
- Facilitate a just transition for workers and communities across the UK, by developing a national low carbon skills strategy and ensuring industry, local public bodies and government work together to help attract low carbon investment in parts of the countries in need of economic regeneration;
- Pass an ambitious Environment Bill that not only safeguards environmental protections currently enshrined in EU law but also goes beyond the status quo. This should include setting ambitious and legally binding environmental improvement targets and establishing delivery policies covering key areas such as air, water, soils, peatland, biodiversity and resource efficiency. Such targets are important in their own right but also crucial to help the UK adapt to climate change and deliver net zero emissions;
- Radically improve the UK’s resource productivity by implementing the Resources and Waste Strategy. Priority actions include introducing detailed regulatory measures (such as product standards) and fiscal incentives (through extended producer responsibility schemes and tax rebates for resource efficient products) that drive greater resource efficiency and cut waste across the economy;
- Grow the flows of private finance into green infrastructure by strengthening the Green Finance Strategy in both detail and ambition. This should include introducing a mandatory requirement for businesses and investors to disclose their exposure to climate-related risks from the early 2020s in line with the “TCFD recommendations” ;
Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said:
- Increase global ambition on climate change by capitalising on the UK’s presidencies of the COP26 climate summit in 2020 and G7 in 2021. An ambitious diplomatic policy on climate change should be matched by a trade policy that encourages greater trade in low carbon goods and services and promotes high environmental standards in line with the UK’s domestic goals.
“This General Election is taking place at a crucial moment for the environment and the UK’s future competitiveness. Actions over the next five years will determine the UK’s ability to achieve its environmental targets and will also have a profound impact on whether UK businesses can become leading providers of the low carbon goods and services the world economy will increasingly demand.”
Nick Molho added:
“The UK will be hosting the critical COP26 climate summit less than a year after the General Election. To be in a credible position to encourage international partners to increase their commitments on climate change, the next government will need to demonstrate that the UK has a comprehensive plan in place to deliver its own net zero target.”
Professor Martin Siegert, Co-Director, Grantham Institute – Climate change and the Environment, Imperial College London, said:
“This election offers parties the chance to show real leadership by going beyond headline strategic targets, and committing to specific policies and priorities that will deliver the UK’s ambitious environmental and climate change goals. In the run up to the UK’s role as host of COP26 – the 2020 international climate change negotiations – it is vital that the UK shows real progress in moving towards a cleaner, greener future that is fair for all.”
Bevis Watts, CEO, Triodos Bank UK, said:
“We have no time to lose. A climate and environmental emergency calls for immediate action and a radical transformation of the economy. This requires a well-designed overarching transition strategy, steered by government and with participation of all stakeholders in society. The banking sector must also play its part. The Aldersgate Group manifesto provides clear steps to take the UK in the right direction and the next government should have the courage to act accordingly.”
Abi Bunker, Director of Conservation and External Affairs, Woodland Trust, said:
“Let’s not shy away from the truth. It will be a challenge, it will cost money, it will mean tough choices, but the human race is at a crossroads for our environmental future. If we are serious about tackling the climate and nature crisis we have to act, that’s the reality we live in, tough choices, big challenge, but we can all rise to meet it head on.”
David Symons, UK Director of Sustainability, WSP, said:
“Delivering a resilient, net zero, sustainable economy is vital for the UK’s future prosperity and productivity. Hosting the UN Climate Summit in 2020 provides a watershed moment for the UK to show it can lead on delivery as well as targets setting. All parties should commit to delivering fast action to decarbonise the UK’s economy, pass a strong Environment Bill and maintain high environmental standards to ensure we stay on track to deliver on the UK’s 2050 net zero target, in an inclusive and just way.”