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15th June 2023

Net Zero Change Pivotal to UK Plc’s Competitiveness

Business says a partnership with Government is vital to meet the UK’s commitment to be Net Zero by 2050. 

The proposal is a centrepiece of a new report from business leaders which recommends how we successfully transition to a Net Zero economy. 

Among its other recommendations are: 

  • Government must ensure the UK doesn’t fall behind on Net Zero, and promote the advantages of a low carbon UK economy.
  • Reaching Net Zero means action beyond energy production – including upgrading our transport systems, homes, businesses, and land use.
  • All major Government spending and policy decisions should be stress tested to check they help deliver the UK’s Net Zero aim.
  • There must and can be a step change in the way we move people and goods, how we heat our buildings and what we produce and consume.
  • Action is needed now, if UK business is to remain competitive in a global race for investment.
  • To truly unlock the UK’s potential, business and government should focus on a five Is framework – Integrity, Investment, Implementation, Innovation and Influence.

The report, by the Advisory Business Group, has been sent to the Government’s independent statutory Climate Change Committee (CCC) for consideration. 

The group was formed last November by the CCC to provide solutions from the business community to keep the UK’s Net Zero commitment on track. It has been chaired by Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce.

The CCC will now consider the report before making its final recommendations to Government.

Commenting on the proposals, Ms Haviland, said:  

“Net Zero is simply about commercial competitiveness and positioning companies to seize the global benefits that the low-carbon transition will bring.

“But if the UK is to stand even a chance of hitting the Net Zero target by 2050 then businesses and government must work together to achieve it.

“With the right framework in place, UK firms can lead on creating and manufacturing the technology to allow us all to live greener lives. Which is vital for supporting the consumer behaviour required to reach Net Zero.

“Everyone understands the imperative, but research also shows that many firms, especially smaller ones, do not fully understand how to capture those benefits.

“There is a real danger that these businesses will get left behind unless politicians and business leaders come together to galvanise action. The UK is poised to be a global leader in Net Zero competitiveness and inward investment, but that opportunity may slip from our fingers.

“With so many business sectors making up our economy, the pathway to net zero will not be the same in each one – farmers, builders, creatives and accountants will all need to take different routes.

“What is essential now is building Net Zero into all aspects of Government policy and spending, to demonstrate the commitment. Giving that clarity and certainty will drive business confidence to invest.

“We need to know how businesses will be supported to switch from industrial scale heating systems; plans for electric vehicle charging networks; how our freight systems will be decarbonised, and our energy sources diversified and stabilised.

“Once we have the full picture it will then become much easier for firms to make their plans with confidence and work out how they can finance them.”

Responding, after receiving the report, Climate Change Committee Chief Executive, Chris Stark, said:

“I’m grateful to our Advisory Group on Business for this report, which offers important ideas to realise the potential of business to support the UK’s journey to Net Zero.

“Our own analysis emphasises the integral role that the private sector must play in the transition. It is businesses that will develop and deploy low carbon technologies, their capital investment is the majority needed for Net Zero, their offering to consumers will drive the change in Net Zero lifestyles.

“The Advisory Group’s recommendations and insights will now feed into a new report we are preparing on the potential for business action on climate change later this year.”

The full report to the CCC can be found here.

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