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Corporate Leaders Groups

Business leadership for a climate neutral economy

11 November 2021 - As COP26 focuses on the built environment, the UK Corporate Leaders Group (CLG UK) launches its new report highlighting the role and interaction of business and policy in supporting resilient places.

Read the policy briefing.

In the context of reaching net zero by 2050, Preparing for the storm: The role of UK business and government in improving UK resilience to climate change in the UK explores how leading UK businesses are already increasing community resilience through climate adaptation strategies and action. The report identifies how policy can be used to support acceleration in the race to resilience.

Beverley Cornaby, Policy Lead, CLG UK, said: “The need to act has been steadily rising up the global agenda with ambition on adaptation and resilience increasing in the lead up to COP26. One of the core goals set out by the UK has been to call on countries to increase action on adaptation and reduce loss and damage. 

“This clear shift in focus from businesses is an important deepening of their understanding of their role within the communities in which they operate. The same resilience that will protect and restore communities, will maintain the stability of that operating space and so help to stabilise the UK economy. But more can be done more quickly when both business and policy work together to deliver that common aim.”

Businesses impact and depend on the communities and places they operate in and can play a major part in adapting to climate change and building resilience. The report highlights opportunities and the potential for adaptive approaches that not only enhance resilience, but also deliver wider economic, social and environmental benefits.

Jo Churchill MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), said: “CLG UK has been a positive force in mobilising British businesses to meet the challenges of net zero, and it is great to see that this group is now turning its attention to the equally important and pressing challenge of adaptation. I look forward to exploring the report’s recommendations in more detail, as well as to further engagement with CLG and the wider business community as we develop our next National Adaptation Programme.”

Peter Simpson, CEO of Anglian Water and co-Chair of CLG UK, said: "This report powerfully highlights the opportunity, as well as the risk, associated with adapting to the climate crisis.  It provides clear evidence that adaptation can be delivered in ways which not only build resilience to physical climate-related risks but create renewed social and environmental prosperity and unlock green finance opportunities. I urge leaders in government and business to read it and act on its recommendations."

COP26 President Alok Sharma launched the UN Race to Resilience campaign in January 2021. The campaign aims to put people and nature at the heart of the fight against climate change and bring together businesses, investors, cities and civil society through a partnership of initiatives to strengthen the resilience of 4 billion people in communities that are vulnerable to climate risk by 2030.

Key findings of the policy briefing:

The report recommends that business and government work together to help make UK communities more resilient with the following priorities:

  • The UK government should set out a clear vision for a well-adapted UK and act to integrate adaptation across government policy
  • The Treasury should provide a regular assessment and statement of the financial and economic risks of climate change to the UK, and the opportunities and benefits that could be derived from taking early action to enhance resilience
  • The UK government should continue to demonstrate international leadership on climate risk
  • Businesses of all sizes should make climate resilience a strategic priority

Read more thought leadership from the Corporate Leaders Groups here.

Learn more about CLG UK's engagement with policymakers here.

Citing this report

University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). (2021). Preparing for the storm: The role of UK business and government in improving UK resilience to climate change in the UK. Cambridge, UK: CLG UK

Authors and acknowledgements

This report was prepared by Bruce Horton, Beverley Cornaby, Eliot Whittington and Sanna Markkanen, with support from Serena Liuni and Isabelle Cross

We would like to acknowledge UK Corporate Leaders Group members, CISL colleagues and external reviewers for their constructive comments and feedback on this report. We would also like to thank our case studies companies for their inputs.


© 2021 University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). Some rights reserved.


The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not represent an official position of the Corporate Leaders Groups, CISL, the wider University of Cambridge, or clients

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