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Posts tagged 'Aldersgate group'

Setting the pace: Northern England’s low carbon economy

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Low Carbon Economy - AGToday marks the launch of Aldersgate Group’s new report – Setting the pace: Northern England’s low carbon economy.

The Aldersgate Group is an alliance of leaders from business, politics and civil society that drives action for a sustainable economy.

The report spotlights a number of low carbon case studies in the North of England to demonstrate that low carbon investment can play a significant role in bolstering the Northern economy whilst helping the UK meet its carbon targets.

This report is part of their activities to influence the development of an ambitious environmental policy by the new government and in particular that of a detailed emissions reduction plan to meet the fifth carbon budget.

Businesses, communities and local authorities in the North of England are seizing the opportunity to develop a local low carbon economy, bringing much needed investment and jobs to the region. And there is signifcant potential for further growth.

“Climate change represents a major challenge to the UK, but developing the means to mitigate our carbon emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change presents an enormous commercial opportunity. In the North of England, low carbon investment has already had a significant impact on regional regeneration. It has created thousands of skilled jobs, developed local supply chains, encouraged innovation and produced clean energy generation. In 2013 there were already 136,000 people working in the low carbon economy in the North. 

This report makes the case for greater local government support and a clear national industrial strategy to strengthen the low carbon economy in the North, create further jobs in the sector and ultimately help the UK to meet its climate change targets on time and on budget. Case studies from across the North of England show that low carbon initiatives in sectors as diverse as manufacturing, energy infrastructure, biofuels, natural assets, smart heat, resource efficiency and offshore wind are doing just this and bringing knock-on benefits for their supply chains and the wider economy.”

 

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An Economy That Works

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An Economy That Works LogoUK business coalition backs “better growth” roadmap to get economy working harder for the environment and society.

A coalition of some of the UK’s biggest businesses today backed a new macro-economic roadmap for Britain and launched a new independent campaign called “An Economy That Works” based on the findings of a major report.

Campaign founders the Aldersgate Group and its progressive alliance of NGOs and UK businesses argue in their first report that the UK economy risks becoming detached from the long-term needs of society. It says that GDP growth is an important tool in creating prosperous societies, but warns that on its own growth is unable to define a path to lasting prosperity and competitiveness. It says an economy that works for the UK is one that will be low carbon, will deliver high employment and equality of opportunity, and place wellbeing and regard for natural resources at its core.

Sir Ian Cheshire, Group Chief Executive, Kingfisher plc said: “The last seven years have shown us that we urgently need an economy that contributes to society and strengthens it. GDP is not a comprehensive measure of prosperity: it is an important tool, not a goal in itself. Instead of maximum linear growth in GDP, we need to start thinking of maximum wellbeing for minimum planetary input.”

Launching the new campaign, Sir Richard Lambert, former Financial Times editor and former Director-General of the CBI said: “Single-issue policymaking is struggling to address the complex social and environmental challenges of our time.  The Economy that Works coalition has a relentlessly positive vision and its systemic blueprint for creating decent jobs, delivering equal opportunity, and enhancing wellbeing across the UK is exciting and galvanising.”

Peter Young, Chair of the Aldersgate Group said: “Despite encouraging UK growth figures, we risk getting stuck with reduced wellbeing, rising inequality, continued loss of natural capital and rising resource pressures. Policymakers urgently need to look beyond GDP to define successful growth – setting far more coherent policy goals which strengthen the links between our economy, our society and the environment.”

Oliver Dudok van Heel, Director of “An Economy That Works” said: “Our coalition wants to see an economy that works harder for our society and our environment. Many of our member companies are championing best practice and progressive social and environmental policies that will keep our economy in the fast lane. This campaign is an ambitious attempt to draw these strands together into a joined-up roadmap for policymakers that will help insulate UK society from future economic shocks.”

The organisations behind the campaign – including Aviva Investors, BT, Friends of the Earth, Interface, Kingfisher, M&S, National Grid, Nestlé, RSPB, Sky, the TUC and WWF – hope to spark informed political debate about what UK citizens and businesses want from their economy and inspire policymakers to develop solutions that will keep the UK prosperous, competitive and sustainable for generations to come. Many of them have long been at the forefront of driving progressive ethical and sustainable business practices.

The growing coalition behind the new campaign will work with the UK government over the coming years to identify the key policy levers for change, support their adoption, and encourage wider uptake of innovative business practices that together are needed to guarantee a competitive and successful UK economy now and in the future.

An Economy That Works Infographic

Click here to view the downloadable infographic.

KEY REPORT FINDINGS:

Moving beyond ‘growth’ and defining six core characteristics of ‘An Economy that Works’:

1. High employment 
- investment in job generation and skills development, promoting flexible and part-time working, investing in lifetime educational support to increase financial independence and create fulfilling work opportunities.

2. Equality of opportunity – unlocking a ‘double dividend’: reducing inequality and boosting social and economic mobility for all; cutting the cost of employment and introducing living wage levels.

3. Wellbeing at the core
 – ensuring everyone has confidence their material needs will be met, supported by strong healthcare & education systems, strong social networks & democratic institutions.

4. Low carbon 
– there is no such thing as a high carbon low cost future; effective carbon pricing and policy support for innovation and deployment of low carbon technologies are essential. The environmental goods and services sector is growing and already represents £122bn (9.3 per cent) of the UK economy.

5. Zero waste
 – promotion of a circular economy to cut landfill and promote re-use of materials; UK could cut its reliance on raw materials by 20 per cent by 2020 and unlock a £5.6bn opportunity in UK re-manufacturing.

6. Enhancing nature – The UK’s diverse natural capital provides the economy and society with food, clean air, wildlife, energy, wood, recreation and protection from hazards. Measuring this value to the UK economy and preventing its exploitation makes sound business sense.

Notes

The ‘An Economy That Works’ report is available at www.aneconomythatworks.org

Click here to view the downloadable infographic.

Organisations that support the ‘An Economy That Works Campaign’ include: Anglian Water; Asda; Aviva Investors; Bank of America Merrill Lynch; BT; CDP; Energy Saving Trust; The Equality Trust; Forum for the Future; Friends of the Earth; Grant Thornton; Green Alliance; IEMA; Interface; Johnson Matthey; Kingfisher; Landmark; Lucideon; M&S; National Grid; the National Union of Students; Nestlé; New Economics Foundation; Reed Elsevier; RSPB; Share Action; Sky; Thames Water; Trade Union Congress; the UK Green Building Council; Willmott Dixon; the Woodland Trust; WSP and WWF.

For more information and interviews please contact:

Tom Howard-Vyse on 07920 269 477 or media@aldersgategroup.org.uk

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Flooding emphasises need to address climate change

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I received this communication from Aldersgate Group today which is due to be supported by an article in the FT written by Jim Pickard.

It raises some serious concerns from the recent flooding, is worth a read and to be spread through our networks to build unified support. I’ve copied the text below for easier reading should the image be too small. The full Press Release is also further down.

Aldersgate Flood Climate Change Press Release

The continuing and widespread flooding has already caused real damage to the UK. Families and livelihoods are being badly hit. The overall costs to those affected and the wider economy will be significant.

The type of extreme weather that we are currently experiencing is in line with climate change predictions, which also warn that such events will become more frequent.

We believe that a far-sighted cross-party response is urgently needed. Clearly the country needs to think about how it will manage the growing risks of widespread flooding. But events have also emphasised the need to act to address the causes of climate change. All parties must look beyond the short-term and demonstrate their commitment to creating a low carbon economy through domestic decisions and international leadership. Only bold action will maximise investment and innovation to deliver resilience and future economic competitiveness. Without this the costs will continue to pile up.

Yours, Andrew Raingold – Executive Director – Aldersgate Group

Aldersgate Flood PR

Leading businesses call for action on floods and climate change

Today leading businesses with a combined turnover of nearly £200 billion have warned that climate change is projected to make UK flooding more frequent.

In a letter sent to the Financial Times, they call for prompt political action to address the causes of climate change. The businesses recognise the critical importance of flood prevention, but call on politicians from all parties to demonstrate bold leadership to address the root causes of increasing extreme weather events.

The recent unstable weather patterns in the UK are in line with the projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Merely adapting to the growing threat of floods will leave the UK exposed to future costs.

The businesses say that a clear commitment to tackling climate change will bring economic benefits to the UK. It will maximise investment and innovation to deliver resilience and future economic competitiveness.

Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, which coordinated the letter, said:

“These floods were caused by the worst winter downpour in 250 years1 and the clean up bill is already on course to cost £1 billion2. But adapting to the changing climate without addressing the root causes is like dishing out painkillers when we need major surgery. Political parties must come together to show leadership beyond the parliamentary cycle.”

Nick Lakin, Group Head of Government Affairs at Kingfisher said:

“Climate change poses a threat to businesses and communities alike. The floods we have seen are a foretaste of what we could expect as the climate system is disrupted. Far more action is needed. All political parties should work together to put in place mechanisms that can respond to climate change and start to decarbonise the UK economy. Early action will build confidence for investors, drive innovation and ensure the UK economy is resilient and competitive.”

Katharine Thoday from ClimateWise, who helped to coordinate the letter said:

“Avoiding risk is always better than dealing with the fallout. Leadership and multi- sector co-operation is required to put sensible long-term risk management in response to climate change at the heart of policy making.”

The full list of signatories is: Aldersgate Group, Allianz, Atkins, Aviva, Interface, Johnson Matthey, Kingfisher, Lloyds Banking Group, Mitie, Navigators and Swiss Re.

For further enquiries please contact: Andrew Raingold – Executive Director andrew.raingold@aldersgategroup.org.uk / 07939 226664

Note to editors:

This letter was coordinated by the Aldersgate Group, ClimateWise and the UK Corporate Leaders Group.

Aldersgate Group is an alliance of leaders from business, politics and civil society that drives action for a sustainable economy. Our mission is to trigger the change in policy required to address environmental challenges effectively and secure the maximum economic benefit in sustainable growth, jobs and competitiveness.

ClimateWise is the global insurance industryʼs leadership group to drive action on climate change risk. The group leverages the insurance industryʼs expertise to better understand, communicate and act on climate risks.

The Prince of Walesʼs Corporate Leaders Group brings together business leaders from major UK, EU and international companies who believe there is an urgent need to develop new and longer term policies for tackling climate change.

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Is the Government scoring an own goal with their energy policy?

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I received a communication from the Aldersgate Group last week that discusses the Government’s position on energy pricing. Their ultimate plan is to reduce our energy bills by an average of £50/yr, but at what actual cost? Are they scoring an own goal?

Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group, has written to the Prime Minister setting out business’ concern of the recent politicisation of UK energy policy. He says that mixed messages from Government are creating “risk, ambiguity and mistrust”.

Peter Young warned that: “The Government is scoring a spectacular own goal as the jumbled energy policy debate increases today the very costs that Government is seeking to reduce, and increases the costs for business tomorrow by not delivering an efficient, less fossil-reliant energy supply. The very real danger is that we shoot ourselves in the foot and fail to deliver an affordable, secure and low carbon energy mix.”

For further information, see Roger Harrabin analysis on the bbc website (click here), citing the letter and, “warning that in their attempt to drive bills down, politicians may be forcing bills up.” Also see coverage in The Mirror.

Energy Price Changes

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Aldersgate Group Ask Government to reinstate Review On Resource depletion, Climate Change and Growth

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Here is the open letter to Steven Fries, Chief Economist from DECC to reinstate the Government review on Resource Depletion, Climate Change and Growth published by the Aldersgate Group.

A little background:

Last year, DECC’s Chief Economist – Stephen Fries and Chief Economists at BIS, FCO, DFID and Defra proposed launching an independent macroeconomic review on “Resource Depletion, Climate Change and Growth”. The external review would have been analogous to the 2006 Stern Review, but factoring in wider resource depletion alongside climate change, and inspired by recent research on volatile & rising commodity prices and escalating global resource pressures published by McKinsey & Grantham (full terms of reference are in the AG briefing).

Classified emails, obtained under freedom of information law, show that Government economists across BIS, DECC, FCO, DFID and Defra are deeply concerned with how “developments in the global economy over the next few decades are expected to put a heavy strain globally on renewable and non-renewable resources” impacting on “the UK’s potential for sustainable growth, its terms of trade, exposure to commodity price shocks and the security of resource supply.” The correspondence, stretching from February to May 2012, shows how the Treasury’s Chief Economist Dave Ramsden opposed the review.

Aldersgate Group Directors are deeply concerned that the Treasury has resisted this review. Why would the Government not want a more comprehensive evidence base to help understand the impacts of resource depletion and climate change on the economy?

The signatories of the business statement strongly support the intention of BIS, FCO, DECC, DFID and Defra Government Chief Economists to commission an independent, transparent and urgent review of how these major trends could impact on the UK’s economic security, and urge the Chancellor to ensure his department takes due consideration of these systemic risks to economic growth.”

Letter to Steven Fries

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Mandatory Carbon Reporting vs. Mandatory Product Reporting

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Reuters recently reported that the UK was being urged to force firms to report carbon emissions and finally, the UK government has committed to mandatory carbon reporting.

Not especially ambitious, but it’s something.

It will affect less than 2,000 companies and even the CBI was in favour so I dont think the coalition has taken any real risk.

Next steps? – Extending the number of companies?

Here is the latest Carbon Emissions Poll from Populus which suggests that 77% of us think that larger businesses should be required to report on their carbon emissions.

The Aldersgate Group with other businesses and the general public have been calling for mandatory carbon reporting including this open letter to Nick Clegg.

However, more interesting than corporate reporting would be mandatory product reporting.

Nutritional information on food packaging is a must and nobody argues with the customer’s right to know, even if most of us don’t look at them. In a similar fashion, product environmental information should be mandatory.

At Interface we have committed to product reporting and most of our products are already covered by EPDs. We disclose raw materials, ‘ingredients’, production methods and environmental impact categories such as GWP in kgCO2eq or acidification in gSO2eq.

One day this will be standard. We’re pushing for soon!

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Commissioner Potocnik gets it. Thoughts from meeting him

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Thanks to both the Green Alliance and the Aldersgate group, I was privileged to engage with EU Commissioner Janez Potocnik on several events in London on Monday. Such a great inspiration and reassurance that the EU Commissions gets sustainability.

Let me share with you some of the great points the Commissioner made.

– In one private meeting with several companies (all quite progressive sustainability leaders) where all the companies where asking for more regulation and proper standards on sustainability he said, in response to other companies who advocate less regulation: ‘Would you take out all the rules from football?’

What a great point. Of course we wouldnt because it would become a chaos where the strongest (and with less scrupulous, this is my own words) would benefit, not the most talented. The most succesful sport in the planet is heavily regulated but the rules are clear and are consistent.

– ‘Slovenia who was the strongest country in the former Yugoslavia and thought would benefit the most from the breakdown, lost 20% of GDP after the separation’. That tells you how interlinked the economies are and how important is the internal market and having same standards across the EU.

Other points from his various speeches on Monday were:

-Today material costs already make up more than 40 % of total costs in manufacturing industries compared to less than 20 % for labour – we need innovation and ingenuity to improve our resource productivity beyond labour productivity.

-During the 20th century the world population grew four times, its economic output 40 times. We increased our fossil fuel use 16 fold, our fishing catches by a factor of 35 and our water use 9 fold. It was called the “great acceleration”, but I am afraid that we might hit the wall soon.

-87% of European Companies expect the costs of their material inputs to increase over the next 5 to 10 years.

-Every year in Europe, we use 16 tonnes of materials per person per year to keep our economy going; and we produce 6 tonnes per person per year of waste; with half of that going into landfill. This is not sustainable. It’s more of a linear economy than a circular economy

-A one percentage point gain in resource productivity can save € 23 billion a year to European businesses, and could help them create 150,000 jobs

-It is a mystery to many people that we are prepared to sacrifice scarce public resources at a time of budget austerity in order to do damage to our environment. Just one small example is tax breaks for company cars – these cost € 50 billion a year, and increase our greenhouse gas emissions at the same time! You could also ask why we are taxing employment so heavily when we have 12 million unemployed and resources so lightly when we have environmental problems. So getting the prices right means also getting taxes and subsidies right. That means a shift away from taxing employment and on to resource use

Download the full speeches from Monday here:

http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/11/877&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/11/876&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

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