UK businesses support the ruling government’s ambitious climate leadership. Theresa May has announced that her Conservative government is amending the Climate Change Act and ratcheting up ambitions with a net zero energy emissions objective by 2050.
“This country led the world in innovation during the Industrial Revolution, and now we must lead the world to a cleaner, greener form of growth,” May said in a statement announcing the plan.
Under May the UK has taken steps to support the business community’s efforts to lower emissions including a 2017 plan to help energy consumers and industries save as much as 40 billion pounds (US$52 billion) on their electricity bills by opening the grid to battery storage devices.
The government is also counting on UK businesses to help them with their 25-year Environment
Plan that was launched in 2018. The plan focuses on improving the resource efficiency of the economy.
UK businesses are on board and there is evidence to suggest that UK manufacturers are benefiting from their sustainability efforts. According to a June 10th 2019 survey released by Make UK, almost three quarters (71%) of companies say environmental improvement have reduced costs. Energy efficiency is a common focus and more than half of those that responded to the survey said they were taking steps towards greater energy efficiency. Companies are investing in on site battery storage and renewables. They are also replacing old equipment and adopting standards like ISO 14001.
As reported by Business Green, Britain’s biggest business group, the CBI, called for a net zero emissions target “as soon as possible”. As CBI states on their website, they exist “to help business create prosperity for all”. They “create opportunities, build, innovate and cultivate a better future for the next generation” premised on the believe that businesses have the power to do good and make a difference.
UK businesses support May’s climate leadership. “UK business stands squarely behind the government’s
commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050,” CBI director-general
Carolyn Fairbairn said. “This legislation is the right response to the global climate crisis,
and firms are ready to play their part in combating it,” she added.
Recent reports from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) concluded a net zero target was feasible by 2050 and could be achieved at a cost of around one to two per cent of GDP. However, this does not include the considerable economic benefits, when these are factored the costs are virtually eliminated. According to CBI’s Fairbairn, “climate leadership can drive UK competitiveness and secure long-term prosperity unleash billions of pounds in new green infrastructure investment, trigger a wave of fresh decarbonisation policies, and drive targeted R&D efforts to help tackle emissions from high carbon sectors.”
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Greg Clark said that two million high quality jobs will be added in the next decade adding to the almost 400,000 people already employed in the low-carbon sector and its supply chains across the country.
“[T]here’s absolutely no question that [net zero] is the right economic choice,” Paul Dickinson, executive chair at corporate disclosure body CDP, said. “The financial cost of climate impacts is enormous while the benefits of a low-carbon economy are even greater,” he added.
Citing the CDP’s recent climate analysis, Dickinson reiterated the findings of other reports which show that the benefits of climate action far outweigh the costs. “The business opportunities from the low-carbon transition worth $2.1tr” Dickinson said adding that this is more than “seven times the cost of achieving them. The business case is clear, the time to act is now.”
Mabey, CEO of climate change think tank E3G said the UK’s net zero target is “critical” for business. The move gives them businesses the “confidence to invest now in
powering ahead with a prosperous zero carbon transition” Mabey said, but he added “this target
will be meaningless unless the government ramps up its policies and
public investment to get us on track. Net Zero must now be put at the
heart of the UK’s economic mission and infrastructure plans.”
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