Business backing climate action as Brexit begins

Intro

As the UK formally triggers the process to leave the EU, UK businesses have made it clear that climate action policies are good for people, the planet and business. Thirty companies, including Kingfisher, the owner of DIY behemoth B&Q, and engineering giant Arup, have written to the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark urging him to commit to an ambitious energy efficiency drive as part of the forthcoming Clean Power Plan. The letter argues that insulating houses and other energy efficiency measures are one of the “most cost-effective” ways of meeting the UK’s climate targets. It also highlights how such actions would reduce fuel poverty and rates of illness associated with living in a cold house, thereby saving the pressurised National Health Service money. Recent research has likewise shown that a UK-wide push to improve the energy efficiency of homes could create up to 108,000 jobs a year. Meanwhile, a group of investors with more than $18 trillion in assets under management is demanding that the UK ensures that a carbon pricing mechanism leads the country’s long-term decarbonisation efforts post-Brexit. Westminster has yet to clarify whether the UK will remain in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) after it leaves the bloc. Failing to listen to sound evidence-based advice from business, investors and environmentalists and calls for climate action from the general public and politicians across the political spectrum will leave Theresa May as isolated as her US counterpart Donald Trump whose climate denying measures have been roundly slammed with US states, EU leaders and China promising to forge ahead with the clean energy transition.

Tweet

Key Points

  • Business and investors want climate action. Thirty leading companies are calling on UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark to commit to an ambitious energy efficiency drive as part of the country’s forthcoming Clean Power Plan. They argue that insulating houses and other energy efficiency measures are one of the “most cost-effective” ways of meeting the UK’s climate targets and will provide health benefits, save the health service money and create jobs. Meanwhile, a group of investors with more than $18 trillion in assets under management has called on the UK to ensure that a carbon pricing mechanism leads the country’s long-term decarbonisation efforts post-Brexit.

 

  • UK Prime Minister Theresa May needs to make it clear that climate action is a priority as she negotiates Brexit. Giving in to climate denying Brexiteers rather than listening to business, investors, the general public and politicians from all parties will leave May politically isolated and the UK looking ridiculous. As has been made clear to US President Donald Trump, the clean energy transition is underway and policies aimed at weakening climate action are simply childish delaying tactics that will cause harm to the poorest. Christiana Figueres, who led the UN climate body through to the Paris deal, said: “Trying to make fossil fuels remain competitive in the face of a booming clean renewable power sector, with the clean air and plentiful jobs it continues to generate, is going against the flow of economics.”

 

  • Attempts by Donald Trump to reverse the Obama administration’s climate change policies is clearly a big blow, but it is heartening that states and companies across the US and countries around the world have signalled their refusal to be blown off course. EU climate action commissioner Miguel Árias Cañete has reaffirmed Europe’s commitment as a “driver” of the clean energy transition, while Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said today that his country’s “resolve, aims and policy moves in dealing with climate change will not change” and even fossil fuel company Exxon Mobil has written to Trump urging him to keep the US in the Paris climate deal.

Resources

VIDEOS & PHOTOS

COVERAGE

TOOLS AND RESOURCES

KEY QUOTES

“We regret the US is rolling back the main pillar of its climate policy, the clean power plan. Now, it remains to be seen by which other means the United States intends to meet its commitments under the Paris agreement. The continued leadership of the EU, China and many other major economies is now more important than ever. When it comes to climate and the global clean energy transition, there cannot be vacuums, there can only be drivers, and we are committed to driving this agenda forward. The EU has the most ambitious emissions reduction target. We will stand by Paris, we will defend Paris, and we will implement Paris.” – Miguel Árias Cañete, EU Climate Action Commissioner.

 

“Decarbonising our buildings, done properly, will stimulate the economy, increase employment, reduce energy bills, enhance the UK’s energy security, and help the UK to honour its climate commitments. This is an opportunity for all of us to shape a better world for future generations.” – Chris Jofeh, Director of global buildings retrofit at Arup.

“Government policy is important to drive UK plc towards a lower carbon future. We need clear signals and a strong commitment to get everyone moving in the same direction. The bottom line is that a low-carbon economy is good for business.” – Graham Cash, Chief Executive of BAM Construct UK.