Government must seize business opportunity presented by net zero target
2nd May 2019
Welcoming the publication of the Committee on Climate Change’s advice today , the Aldersgate Group urges the government to press ahead with setting a net zero target. This must be underpinned by a comprehensive policy package to deliver net zero emissions and support business investment and competitiveness. Today’s report from the CCC follows the recent publication of two reports from the Aldersgate Group, setting out how innovation and business investment in ultra-low carbon technologies can be accelerated to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. 
Nick Molho, Executive Director, Aldersgate Group, said: “The CCC’s advice provides powerful analytical backing for the growing calls to update our 2050 target to deliver the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C goal. Setting a net zero target without delay is essential to provide investment clarity for the new business models and high capital cost infrastructure required to drive down emissions. To put the UK on a credible path to net zero, the government should accelerate its efforts to meet existing carbon budgets in areas such as buildings and transport and should ensure that a net zero target is accompanied by industry-led decarbonisation roadmaps, as has been done in Sweden.”
Iain Patton, CEO, EAUC, said: “Universities and colleges are supportive of the recommendation to increase the UK’s GHG emissions cutting target to 100% by 2050. To reach net zero by 2050, it is critical the Government invests in the enabling infrastructure and skilled people required to ensure a low carbon society. Higher and Further Education is in a prime position to undertake much of the Research and Development required to achieve net zero emissions and has a big role to play in educating and upskilling young people and those already in the workforce on this agenda. Universities and colleges are working hard towards incredibly ambitious carbon reduction targets, with 80 UK institutions committed to divesting from fossil fuels already. We will continue to work with institutions to ensure they fulfil their potential on this topic.”
Nick Blyth, Policy Lead on Climate Change and Corporate Sustainability, IEMA, said: “In supporting a binding Net Zero target, IEMA believes there is a leadership and skills imperative. Innovation as a priority extends from the technical right through to leadership and collaborative skills. It is vital to equip companies and organisations with sustainability skills, in order to enable their rapid and successful transition.”
Benet Northcote, Director, Corporate Responsibility, the John Lewis Partnership, said: "It's clear that rapid action is needed to avoid global climate breakdown and the UK should lead the way with an ambitious and binding zero emissions target as recommended by the CCC, along with clear decarbonisation roadmaps. It would help businesses like ours who have already committed to net zero operations ramp up decarbonisation efforts even further and unlock investment and innovation needed to cut emissions across the board."
Mike Barry, Director of Sustainable Business, Plan A, Marks & Spencer, said: “The imperative for transformational action to build a low carbon society and economy is clear. The Committee on Climate Change’s call for a bold Net Zero 2050 target is welcome as is its detailed analysis of the UK’s potential pathway to get there. Now is the time for Government and business to respond decisively by scaling the many known solutions we have today and innovating the remaining hard to solve challenges. In doing so, we can respond to rapidly shifting societal expectations, provide global leadership and position the UK to win in a new, green global economy.”
Steve Robertson, Chief Executive, Thames Water, said: “Climate change is perhaps the biggest challenge facing humanity and will directly impact on the provision of water and sanitation both here in the UK and the rest of the world. We recognise the need to urgently reduce greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere so to help build a better future for our customers and the environment, we’ve committed to work towards delivering net zero emissions by 2030. We continue to develop our plan on how we’ll achieve this but are proud to be stepping up our ambition and encourage others to do the same if we’re to collectively reduce the impact of climate change.”
Bevis Watts, CEO, Triodos Bank UK, said: “Now is the time for much faster action and a clear and credible plan and policy. The government must also look beyond specific climate policy and influence climate change through an ambitious Green Finance Strategy. In the Netherlands, they have a climate agreement in place mandating the financial sector to measure and reduce the carbon footprint of finance and investment. With the right political will, the banking sector is uniquely placed to lead the transition to the sustainable economy. We need disclosure rules in the UK such as those recommended by the Taskforce for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and efforts to account for carbon on bank balance sheets such as the Platform for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF).”
Frazer Mackay, UK Managing Director of Water, Energy & Industry, WSP, said: “Net Zero makes perfect long-term business sense on the basis that the cost of inaction will outweigh the cost of action. A Net Zero goal is exactly the type of aspiration that will galvanise industry to step up its efforts to decarbonise as an immediate priority. It will embolden WSP’s engineers and planners to leverage their ingenuity to devise innovative solutions to break the vicious circle between carbon emissions and economic growth.”
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 The UK has an existing target of at least an 80% emission reduction between now and 2050 against 1990 levels under the Climate Change Act. Following the publication of a report in October 2018 from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calling on the world economy to achieve net zero emissions by mid-century to limit global warming to 1.5C, the CCC was asked by Minister of State Rt Hon Claire Perry MP, along with the Scottish and Welsh governments and support from senior Northern Ireland officials, to review the UK’s long-term climate targets in light of the IPCC’s report. The CCC published its advice today, recommending that the UK increase the current goal under the Climate Change Act to achieve net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. The advice is available here: www.theccc.org.uk.
 The Aldersgate Group published two reports on 4th April 2019 on the business implications of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. The first report, Accelerating innovation towards net zero, from Vivid Economics and the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) commissioned by the Aldersgate Group, sets out key recommendations to accelerate innovation based on a review of case studies of rapid innovations. The second report, Zeroing in: capturing the opportunities from a UK net zero emission target, from the Aldersgate Group, establishes key policy measures that should accompany a UK net zero emissions target to maximise industrial opportunities for UK businesses and avoid unintended consequences. Both reports are available here.