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Corporate Leaders Groups

Business leadership for a climate neutral economy

13 July 2022 - Business groups representing thousands of UK businesses, including Lloyds Banking Group, Amazon, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Signify, Scottish Power and Thames Water are calling on Tory leadership candidates to accelerate the clean energy transition and keep up UK progress on climate change.

Read the full letter.

In an open letter, business groups, including the UK Corporate Leaders Group (CLG UK), BITC, UK Green Building Council, Food and Drink Federation, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and RenewableUK, are urging prospective Conservative Party leadership candidates to implement manifesto commitments on net zero and nature restoration. The groups, representing businesses across all sectors of the UK economy, call for an ambitious focus on the delivery of solutions to the climate and nature crises in order to give business the confidence to invest.

The letter states: ' [...] we urge prospective candidates (and their supporters) for the Conservative Party Leadership to implement your party’s manifesto commitments to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and restore nature within a generation.

'We have seen first-hand that investment in low carbon infrastructure and technologies delivers huge economic benefits. Supportive policy measures bring down the costs of clean technology, enabling businesses to capitalise on growing global markets. The benefits are significant. From job creation, increased exports, and geographically dispersed growth to inward investment and improved air quality from clean energy. Important contributors to levelling up opportunity across the UK.'

In addition to the necessary drive towards a low carbon, pro-nature economy, the letter also focusses on the importance of the clean energy transition in shoring up energy security and helping households with the cost-of-living crisis. The letter was coordinated by the UK Business Group Alliance for Net Zero (BGA) led by Cambridge University’s pro-climate business group CLG UK.

Eliot Whittington, Director, CLG UK said: "The Conservative Party has a significant track record of climate leadership. Their new leader will have a choice between building on this track record and delivering for the UK economy and society or abandoning it and condemning the country to fall behind on the energy transition and face unnecessary costs and risks. Forward looking businesses want more, not less, ambition on climate action, especially as we see the ramifications of volatile fossil fuel supply chains ramping up the cost-of-living crisis and reducing regional energy security. The next Prime Minister must centre climate policy and continue delivery of net zero and regenerating the UK's nature."

The letter was sent a week after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation and a number of Conservative MPs and ministers have thrown their hats into the leadership ring. The business groups reiterate the importance of continued support for action to reduce the UK's negative climate impacts and highlights the 56,000 new jobs created in clean industries in the 20 months since the government's 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, and the scope for an additional 440,000 jobs from the Net Zero Strategy released last year.

Dan McGrail, CEO, RenewableUK said: "We want to be clear with all MPs putting themselves forward to be the next Conservative leader that delivering net zero is a pro-business stance. You can already see the benefits of decarbonisation through the roll-out of new renewable energy, which is lowering consumer bills, driving billions of pounds of private investment into the UK and boosting the productivity of our economy. Our net zero ambition is not just about protecting our environment and climate, but the modernisation of our economy."

Chris Southworth, Secretary-General, ICC United Kingdom said: “Strong political will is necessary if we are to deliver a just transition towards a sustainable, more prosperous future.”

Stephen Woodford, Chief Executive, Advertising Association said: “The UK has a huge opportunity on the world stage to show real leadership in the transition to a net zero economy. We need the UK government to deliver a clear set of strong and effective measures in support to protect jobs, back new emerging parts of the economy, protect people’s health and ultimately deliver on the UK’s commitment to meeting the Paris agreement.”

Nick Molho, Executive Director, the Aldersgate Group said: “The UK is facing unprecedented challenges, from the cost of living and energy security crisis spurred on by volatile fossil fuel price rises, to the urgency to address regional inequalities through the levelling up agenda. The best way to tackle these challenges head on is by delivering on the Conservative Party’s manifesto commitments to reach net zero by 2050, address nature degradation and accelerate the growth of the UK’s low carbon economy. Moving away from volatile fossil fuels, bringing our leaky homes up to high energy efficiency standards and working with businesses to create jobs in new low carbon industries across the country offers a major opportunity to put the UK economy on a stable footing for the future and ultimately lower costs for households. Ambitious climate and environmental policy is the common-sense solution to many of the issues facing the country today – businesses support ambitious action and are ready to invest and so should our future Prime Minister.”

Amanda Mackenzie OBE, Chief Executive, Business in the Community said: “Delivering a just transition to a net zero, resilient future is a vital tool for the UK to tackle rising costs of living and promote opportunities for communities who need them the most.  Turning away now is the wrong solution. Leading the country isn't about winning the next election but creating a legacy that the next generation want to inherit.  Our children are counting on you.”

Sandy Begbie CBE, Chief Executive Officer, Scottish Financial Enterprise said: “Whoever succeeds Mr Johnson as Prime Minister will face significant challenges, particularly tackling the cost of living crisis, accelerating economic recovery and addressing the pressing climate emergency. 

At this challenging time, it is vital that the UK Government maintains its commitment to a just transition to net zero. Long term clarity is vital if we are to generate the investment required now to stimulate a sustainable economic recovery, capture the opportunities that net zero transition can create for the UK, and simultaneously address many of the underlying issues currently driving inequality and insecurity.”

Julie Hirigoyen, CEO, UK Green Building Council said: “As prices soar businesses are looking for the next Prime Minister to deliver on the UK’s legal climate commitments, not ditch them. Tackling the climate and cost of living crises are two sides of the same coin. Insulating our homes and businesses will bring bills down, bolster energy security and help achieve net zero carbon, whilst giving a real boost to the economy and industry.”

Learn more about the UK Business Group Alliance for Net Zero.

Read more thought leadership from the Corporate Leaders Groups.

Learn more about CLG UK's engagement with policymakers.

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Pascale Palmer

Pascale Palmer, Senior Media Advisor

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