Policy, Policy & regulation, News

The bosses of nearly 130 businesses and other organisations have signed a letter to prime minister Theresa May urging the government to set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, as recommended by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

The signatories include a number big players from the utility sector along with household brands such as Coca Cola, John Lewis and Iceland.

“By being the first major economy to legislate an ambitious, domestically achieved net-zero target supported by a comprehensive policy package, the UK can show leadership on a global level while strengthening the UK economy,” the letter states.

“This action would position the country as a strong host, as the UK bids for COP 26 – a critical moment in global action to tackle climate change and an opportunity to leave a legacy of clean growth across the UK.”

It continues: “Many of us are setting our own net-zero and science-based targets. We are also increasingly investing in and purchasing clean energy, using low-emission and electric vehicles, converting land to carbon sinks and improving energy efficiency throughout our operations and portfolios – and making new green jobs in the process.

“We are doing this because we see the threat that climate change poses to our businesses and to our investments, as well as the significant economic opportunities that come with being an early mover in the development of new low-carbon goods and services. But we need effective, long-term policies to support the investment and innovation required if the UK is to accelerate the necessary transition and ensure it is delivered fairly.”

Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, said: “Business stands squarely behind the ambition for the UK to have a net zero emissions economy by 2050 and build on our global leadership in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Immediate and decisive action is needed to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change and create opportunities in low-carbon technologies.”

Anglian Water chief executive Peter Simpson commented: “We have committed ourselves to even greater reductions and recently the whole of the UK water industry agreed to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. This experience has convinced us that more ambitious national targets are not only essential but they are also good for business.”

Responding to the CCC’s recommendations earlier this month, business and energy secretary Greg Clark said the government is committed to legislating for a net-zero target but would not do so “immediately”.

The Scottish government, by contrast, has already unveiled draft legislation setting a target of reaching net zero greenhouse emissions five years earlier in 2045.

You can see the (almost) full list of signatories below: