Corporate Leaders Group UK sets out net zero policy wish list

Corporate Leaders Group UK sets out net zero policy wish
Corporate Leaders Group UK sets out net zero policy wish list

Leading companies warn meeting UK climate goals will require cross-sectoral, cross-government leadership

A host of leading corporates, including major brands such as Amazon, Unilever, and Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, will today press the government to focus on seven broad areas to ensure the UK can deliver a robust economic recovery while still delivering on the UK's net zero emissions goals.

The checklist from the UK Corporate Leaders Group of blue chip firms ranges from governance to skills and from investment to infrastructure, with the group arguing that Ministers must take a holistic view of how to remove barriers to climate action and deliver a policy environment that can enable deep emissions reductions.

The UK Corporate Leaders Group also counts Aveva, EDF, Lloyds Bank, Salesforce, Scottish Power, Signifiy, Sky, Thames Water, Velux, and Unilever as members.

Today's policy briefing paper, published as the government prepares its March Budget, warns the decarbonisation brief cannot be siloed to one department. "Leadership and co-ordination should cut across government departments to future-proof UK climate policy and the UK economy," it states.

While noting the UK's progress to date in cutting emissions faster than any other G20 economy, the CLG argues there are significant hurdles to overcome if medium and long term emissions goals are to be met.

"Much more cross-sectoral and cross-government leadership is needed to achieve the net zero target and a competitive economy based on green growth," the report warns. "Above all, the focus needs to move from developing the right goals to delivering emission reductions, and from strategies that set out good ambitions to providing the detail and the follow-through needed for action."

Specifically, the companies are calling for the creation of an Office for Net Zero to drive delivery and monitor progress across government, and for the Office for National Statistics or UK Research and Innovation agency to lead an engagement exercise with businesses so that emissions across supply chains can be better measured.

A Net Zero Fiscal Reform Strategy is also proposed that would address the fiscal impact of net zero policies, such as the imminent sharp reduction in tax receipts from fuel duty, and explore how to use the tax system to drive the transition towards net zero.

And the paper also calls on the government to develop a formal Net Zero Skills Action Plan, which would explore what skills and jobs will be required, at what stage in the transition, and how these needs will be met.

In addition, the CLG has urged ministers to support ambitious and best practice climate-related disclosures and create a regulatory environment that supports financiers and businesses to make better informed decisions about capital allocation in support of the net zero transition, as well as clearly set out priorities for clean technology innovation and development.

The paper also echoes recent calls from across the green economy for the government to undertake "wide-ranging" planning reform at both the local and national level to introduce a credible net zero test for new infrastructure and review current bottlenecks in the system.

"We need to approach the hurdles ahead of us holistically- nothing meaningful will be possible if we tackle climate action in a piecemeal way," said Beverley Cornaby, director of CLG. "Taking this comprehensive view of action offers opportunities to move change along at pace and scale in meeting the UK's climate targets. A cross-cutting approach means we can also address the needs of people, climate and nature simultaneously." 

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero was considering a request for comment on the new paper at the time of going to press.

However, the report is the latest in a string of interventions from business groups and parliament calling on the government to strengthen its decarbonisation plans through the upcoming Spring Budget and the legally required update to the UK's Net Zero Strategy, which is due before the end of March.

Just yesterday, the National Audit Office called on the government to introduce a clearer plan for how it intends to meet its goal of delivering a net zero power system by 2035, while campaigners this week urged Ministers to move quickly to honour their promise to lift the de facto ban on new onshore wind farms.

* This article was originally published here