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16 May 2023

Government Holds First Net Zero Council

Government Holds First Net Zero Council
Image Credit: Håkon Grimstad
  • Ministers have convened a new Net Zero Council with business and finance leaders to drive forward industry’s transition to net zero
  • government to put heads together with representatives from industry to support further carbon reduction amongst businesses across all sectors of the economy
  • management consultants McKinsey estimates a global market opportunity of £1 trillion for British businesses up to 2030 by going green

The leaders of some of the world’s leading banks, energy companies, technology giants and finance firms are among those to have attended the first-ever meeting of the Net Zero Council today (Tuesday 9 May 2023).

Co-chaired by Energy Minister Graham Stuart and Co-op Group chief executive Shirine Khoury-Haq, the Council will support industry to help cut their emissions, and develop greener practices – as well as delivering on the government’s priority to grow the economy by finding ways to ensure British businesses can benefit from the UK’s world-leading position in renewable technologies and achieving net zero, and export their expertise globally.

Siemens, SSE, HSBC and NatWest as well as Lloyds of London are among those on the Council, and will be meeting on a quarterly basis to ensure businesses are a key part of achieving net zero.

Energy Minister Graham Stuart said:

The Net Zero Council provides the high-level forum for government, business and finance leaders to work together to unlock the opportunities of the green transition.

Tackling emissions can make businesses more energy efficient, improve UK energy security and, in turn, cut costs. It can open up opportunities to export UK developed solutions around the world, expand UK market share and create jobs.

The UK has cut its emissions more than any other major economy and the Net Zero Council – meeting today for the first time – will ensure that leaders of UK businesses can help guide government and vice versa so that our environmental leadership translates into economic advantage.

The Net Zero Council includes some of the most senior business and finance leaders in the country. I am grateful that such extraordinary people are prepared to contribute their knowledge, experience and talent for the benefit of both this country and future generations.

In 2020 the UK was estimated to already have over 400,000 jobs in low carbon businesses and their supply chains across the country, with turnover at £41.6 billion. Over 80,000 green jobs are currently being supported or are in the pipeline because of new government policies since 2020, with that expected to increase to as many as 480,000 in 2030.

The new Council discussed the UK’s already world-leading position on net zero and the importance of building one coherent voice across government, finance and business to support the UK’s key sectors in the net zero transition.

Construction, manufacturing, retail and water and waste were identified as priority sectors to support and focus on, alongside the UK’s world-class university and R&D sectors, with capabilities of building cutting-edge technologies of the future, such as green aviation, hydrogen, CCUS and batteries.

The key objectives of the council are:

  • working to ensure sectors and companies have a pathway to net zero, including looking at the barriers and connections across sectors
  • leading a systematic review of the financing challenges and the respective roles of government, industry and the financial sector in addressing them
  • identifying key challenges facing SMEs up and down the country in reducing their carbon footprints and supporting their transition with new information and advice

Co-op Group CEO, Shirine Khoury-Haq, said:

We are in the grip of a climate crisis of humankind’s making and this is the single most important issue that the global community faces. It is vital that all businesses actively contribute to the net zero journey with vigour, as failure to seize this opportunity simply cannot be an option.

I look forward to working with government – who have a role too - in driving industry to go further, as it’s clear we must all reduce carbon emissions at a faster rate.

Notes to editors

Other members of the new Council also commented.

National Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Martin McTague, said:

Small businesses play a vital role in helping the UK achieve its net zero targets by 2050, by decarbonising their own businesses, delivering green jobs, and supporting the transition. There’s a lot of potential for small firms to go further in their net zero journey but the right policy framework is needed.

We’re glad to be a part of the Net Zero Council and look forward to working with the government and like-minded peers to bring down net-zero barriers, and incentivise greater investment with smart policies that work for the 5.5 million small businesses in the UK.

Broadway Initiative Convener, Edward Lockhart, said:

The formation of the Net Zero Council is a giant step on the journey to net zero. For the first time it brings together leadership from across business sectors, finance and the relevant government departments. In doing so, it creates the mechanism capable of giving businesses vital clarity and consistency to design a low carbon future that works for us all.

To be successful the Net Zero Council must be inclusive and open in the way it works. Thanks to all the business groups who have worked alongside the Broadway Initiative to bring this collaboration together. Let’s make the most of it.

Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, Nick Molho, said:

To meet the UK’s target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050, it is vital that we mobilise and collaborate across the economy to put in place the policies, technologies and solutions that will get us there.

The Net Zero Council, as a partnership between government, industry and finance, is an important step forward in this regard. It is essential that we work across sectors, identify the policy challenges that remain and work together to ensure delivery on the ground.