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Corporate Leaders Groups

Business leadership for a climate neutral economy

20 September 2021 - With just over 40 days to go until the UN climate summit more than 80 UK businesses, including BT, Coca-Cola, Tesco, Anglian Water, JLL, Santander, Unilever, the Co-op and Heathrow are calling on Boris Johnson to show strong domestic leadership that can help deliver global progress on climate change.

Read the letter in full

Read the full list of quotes from the business signatories

As hosts of November’s UN climate summit, the UK is being urged to seize opportunities to demonstrate its commitment to addressing the climate-nature crisis in the context of the IPCC’s warning that we have entered a ‘code red for humanity’.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, 82 businesses set out their support for climate action and highlight the need for the UK Government to lay out a coherent, integrated and Treasury-supported Net Zero Strategy. It urges the Prime Minister to align economic and fiscal policy with its decarbonisation strategy in order to build confidence for businesses to act at speed and scale, while sending a clear message to the world that the UK is taking a concerted leadership position on climate change.

The letter states: “A successful summit that achieves the UK Presidency’s goals requires strong UK leadership combining effective diplomacy with credible outcomes, including international solidarity with countries lacking the resources to tackle these challenges alone.

“The countdown to COP26 gives you a limited window to show such leadership. You must seize key opportunities like the upcoming Net Zero Strategy. To get results across the economy, this strategy will need strong support from HM Treasury through the Net Zero and Comprehensive Spending Reviews. You will also need to align other government policies and action across transport, housing, our natural environment and our international aid budget.

“As businesses invested in the future of the UK, we know these steps can deliver long-term benefits for people, nature and climate. We call for an ambitious strategy from government with a clear timetable, detailed policy measures, market mechanisms and messaging on a sector-by-sector basis.”

The letter, coordinated by the Business Group Alliance for Net Zero (BGA), also warns that the UK Government’s failure to act decisively on climate change will carry much greater risks and costs.

Beverley Cornaby, Chair of the BGA and policy lead for CLG UK said:

“The time is now to align climate action with the scale of the climate impacts taking place all over the world. The COP26 Summit in Glasgow has the potential to deliver a step change in global action to reset and retool our economies. We need to see strong UK leadership built on a foundation of credible domestic action to carry the COP to a successful outcome.

“There has long been a strong tradition for British businesses to support UK climate leadership – backing both the net zero ambition, and also the concrete action to deliver it. As the pace of change accelerates and expands across the economy, business needs to see a coherent and integrated strategy from the UK government on how to achieve our climate goals.” 

The UK’s Net Zero Strategy is expected in October and has been a missing link in the Government’s climate planning with many businesses and organisations, including the Climate Change Committee (CCC), calling for a comprehensive strategy to detail the steps the UK will take in the coming years to deliver net zero. The absence of the strategy has been compounded by the UK Government’s repeated delay of its flagship Environment Bill which is not expected to be passed before COP26 in November.

Stephanie Hyde, Chief Executive, JLL UK said:

“All eyes will be on the UK to demonstrate climate leadership at COP26, and clear plans are needed to bridge the gap between where businesses are today and where they need to get to in order to realise their net zero carbon goals. With less than two months to go, there needs to be a comprehensive strategy from government to drive the systemic changes needed in this critical decade.”

Steve Murrells, Chief Executive, The Co-operative Group said:

“At Co-op we have long recognised the scale of the climate crisis that we’re facing and know we must all act further and faster if we’re to succeed with aligning to a 1.5-degree pathway. Government has a critical role to play in demonstrating global leadership on the climate crisis, not least because of our UK Presidency at COP26, to deliver a fairer and greener society, environment and economy for all.”

Amanda Mackenzie OBE, Chief Executive, Business in the Community, said:

“The need for strong leadership in tackling the climate crisis has never been as important as it is now, and business knows the role it has to play. Together, we can bring our collective strength to support the Government’s climate action agenda and help achieve the COP26 targets. We believe in collaborative action to tackle the climate crisis and business is ready to be part of the solution.”

Stephen Moorhouse, Vice President and General Manager, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners GB said:

"Like other leading businesses we have committed to becoming a Net Zero business by 2040 and will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions across our value chain by 30% by 2030. We know this will be a challenging journey, which is why we are encouraging the UK Government to create the right policy framework in which we - and others - can continue to take the right actions on climate."

Colin Matthews, Non-Executive Chairman, EDF in the UK said:

"COP26 in November will be a significant moment for the UK to demonstrate its ambitious commitment to Net Zero on a global stage and drive international momentum as we rebuild following the pandemic. Now more than ever we understand that our objective both at home and abroad must be helping to enable robust economies to deliver carbon reduction targets alongside increased resilience against future risks.”

Keith Anderson, Chief Executive, ScottishPower said:

"The recent IPCC report has made it abundantly clear that humans are driving climate change and extreme weather events are on the rise. The case for action is urgent, and stark. In the five years since the Paris agreement, we have transformed our business, investing billions of pounds in renewable energy infrastructure and offering our customers 100% green electricity.  The UK’s Net Zero targets are not only exciting in ambition, but also completely achievable. With the right plans in place, we have the knowledge, tools and passion to help build a better future, quicker.”

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