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Corporate Leaders Groups

Business leadership for a climate neutral economy

2 March 2023 - A new policy briefing from the UK Corporate Leaders Group (CLG UK) applies a business lens to seven key cross-sectoral and cross-governmental areas which are key to achieving net zero, exploring their challenges, opportunities and impacts on business.

Read the policy briefing.

As the UK Net Zero Review continues to be unpacked and its policy implications understood, CLG UK calls for seven cross-sectoral and cross-government measures to be implemented by the end of this year.

Leading the Way: Identifying the actions government can take to accelerate UK climate action across the economy follows up from analysis undertaken in a CLG UK report in 2021 and sets out how strong government leadership supported by a clear, long-term implementation plan are crucial for the UK to meet its net zero target while growing its economy.

The policy briefing highlights seven key cross-cutting areas that government policy must focus on, as explored in the CCC’s 2022 annual progress report to parliament, and explores related challenges, impacts on business, and opportunities of making these changes. Business actions that have increased net zero ambitions, with COP26 acting as a signal for businesses to take the lead with the number of corporates setting climate commitments increasing exponentially.

However, to accelerate further business action and support them in implementing their commitments, government need to take the lead by enshrining net zero by 2050 into law and implementing a robust Net Zero Strategy, with a longer-term plan to support this. More cross-sectoral and cross-government leadership is needed to achieve the net zero target and a competitive economy based on green growth.

Director of CLG UK Beverley Cornaby said: “We need to approach the hurdles ahead of us holistically– nothing meaningful will be possible if we tackle climate action in a piecemeal way. Taking this view of action in the round offers opportunities to move change along at pace and scale. A cross-cutting approach mean we can address needs of people, climate and nature simultaneously.”

Key findings of the policy briefing:

CLG UK proposes the following priority cross-cutting actions should be implemented by government by the end of 2023:

  1. Governance: Establish an Office for Net Zero to drive delivery and monitor progress across government.
  2. Public and business engagement: Commission the Office for National Statistics (ONS) or UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to lead an engagement exercise with business to define their data needs to measure emissions through their supply chains, leading to greater transparency of action.
  3. Fair funding and affordability: Develop a Net Zero Fiscal Reform Strategy that addresses the fiscal impact of net zero policies and uses the tax system to drive the transition of the economy to net zero.
  4. Skills and jobs: Develop a Net Zero Skills Action Plan setting out what skills and jobs will be required, at what stage in the transition, and how these needs will be met.
  5. Finance and investment: Support ambitious and best practice climate-related disclosures and provide the enabling data and regulatory environment to empower financiers and business to make better informed decisions about capital allocation.
  6. Innovation: Clearly set out priorities for technology and innovation in order to send a signal to the market.
  7. Infrastructure: Undertake wide-ranging planning reform on the local and national level, including the introduction of a net zero test and a review of bottlenecks in the system.

Read CLG UK's 2021 report Bridging the Gap: UK business and policy leadership for net zero.

Read the supportive examples from business on net zero implementation.

Read more thought leadership from the Corporate Leaders Groups here.

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

For enquiries, please contact:

Pascale Palmer

Pascale Palmer, Head of Media

Email | T: +44 7432 533 080

Authors and acknowledgements

This briefing was prepared by Harry Greenfield and Beth Barker, with support from Beverley Cornaby, Eliot Whittington, Jenifer Elmslie and Isabelle Cross. We would like to acknowledge UK Corporate Leaders Group members and CISL colleagues for their input, constructive comments and feedback on this report.

Citing the report

University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). (2023). Leading the Way: How government can accelerate UK climate action across the economy. Cambridge, UK: CLG UK.


Copyright © 2023 University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). Some rights reserved. The material featured in this publication is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).


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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