UK businesses put fresh pressure on government over net zero

More than 120 leading UK businesses, investors and business networks have called on the Government to legislate for net zero carbon immediately.

The letter sent to Theresa May is supported by the CBI, The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG), the Aldersgate Group, and the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), as well as Anglian Water, John Lewis Partnership, BT, Aviva, Arup, Coca-Cola and Kingfisher.

Signed by 128 businesses, the letter urges the UK to accept the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and lead the way by becoming the first major economy to legislate for an ambitious, domestic decarbonisation target that delivers net zero by 2050 at the latest.

It states: “As leading businesses and investors, we are determined to support an affordable transition and drive innovation. Many of us are setting our own net zero and science-based targets. We are also increasingly investing in and purchasing clean energy, using low emission and electric vehicles, converting land to carbon sinks and improving energy efficiency throughout our operations and portfolios – and making new green jobs in the process.

“We are doing this because we see the threat that climate change poses to our businesses and to our investments, as well as the significant economic opportunities that come with being an early mover in the development of new low-carbon goods and services. But we need effective, long-term policies to support the investment and innovation required if the UK is to accelerate the necessary transition and ensure it is delivered fairly.”

The signatories represent more than 190,000 businesses, more than 7 million workers, and more than £20 trillion in assets under management. Many of them have aligned themselves to the Paris Agreement, by setting emissions targets or pledging to achieve net zero by the middle of the century.

Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General at the CBI, said: “Business stands squarely behind the ambition for the UK to have a net zero emissions economy by 2050 and build on our global leadership in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Immediate and decisive action is needed to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change, and create opportunities in low carbon technologies. However, it is critical that when setting a net zero target, the Government works with businesses and the public to make the changes they need to deliver this. Businesses are already helping to lead the way, and clear and aligned roadmaps are needed for the sectors that face the toughest challenge in achieving this target. The CBI has previously called for cross-Government consensus on the transition that includes those businesses that are fundamental to delivering net zero emissions and this should be pursued once a target has been established.”

Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive at UKGBC said: “The writing’s on the wall for business and policymakers alike: the time for climate action is now. This letter demonstrates that the climate crisis is rising to the top of boardroom agendas by the sheer number of business heavyweights calling for Government to legislate for a net zero carbon UK. No doubt many of these leaders recognise the growing opportunities of transforming their businesses for a net zero carbon economy. Given that the built environment contributes around 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint, this is particularly true of the construction and property industry, so we’re delighted to see so many of our members as signatories on this letter.”

Peter Simpson, CEO at Anglian Water: “We have committed ourselves to even greater reductions and recently the whole of the UK water industry agreed to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030. This experience has convinced us that more ambitious national targets are not only essential but they are also good for business.”

Learn more about how a 2050 net zero target will affect UK business.