Recovery from the pandemic understandably topped the agenda, but there was also clear recognition of how deeply intertwined climate and biodiversity goals are to building back better. For those reasons, this year’s G7 feels more significant than ever. We face pressing global challenges that require a coordinated international response.
The B7 summit itself was testament to the commitment of the private sector to joining the climate fight. Companies of all sizes and sectors are ready to support governments worldwide to decarbonise and meet net-zero commitments.
As the UK hosts both the G7 and COP26, business understands the unique opportunity to be a global leader, building consensus and mobilising action on a scale never seen before.
Companies I speak to every day across Yorkshire and the Humber recognise these responsibilities but understand that advocacy on the international stage begins at home.
The fight has begun already. Just look at the enormous strides of recent years; the steady shift to decarbonised power, firms developing game-changing carbon capture and storage hubs, as well as electric car sales increasing exponentially. Yet to deliver a just green transition by 2050, we must go further and faster.
Decisive action over the next decade will be crucial to avoid catastrophic impacts for the environment and for communities around the world. That demands even closer partnership between government and business.
By standing shoulder-to-shoulder we can complete the transition to low carbon power and further reduce emissions across transport, industry and buildings. We can also reinforce the UK’s position as a global centre for sustainable finance by boosting issues of green bonds and carbon offset trading.
With concerted effort and a bold vision for the economy, the tide of decarbonisation can be a catalyst to reset society for the better. Furthermore, a set of enormous prizes await the UK upon delivery on that promise: creating a greener, more innovative economy founded on strong global ties – and one that helps our region to thrive.
But those plentiful opportunities are time-limited. Delay and they could easily go elsewhere. The UK Government must seize the moment by building on the ambition outlined in the ten-point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution and be bold in leading by example ahead of COP26.
So what are our next steps?
Let’s deliver a net-zero strategy that cuts our global climate impact and sets a new target to reduce consumption emissions. Let’s build more gigafactories to support electric vehicles.
Let’s carve a clear path to market for hydrogen, incentivise energy efficiency improvements over the long term and build an offshore wind supply chain to capitalise on our strengths.
And, finally, as recommended by the CBI’s Heat Commission, let’s take the radical step to decarbonise homes by mandating all new domestic boiler installations after 2025 to be hydrogen-ready, or using heat pumps or through district heating.
A green revolution can also bolster our workforce, by equipping workers with the green skills they need to take advantage of these opportunities, creating net 240,000 jobs by 2030.
Ambitious climate policies can’t just be wished into action; that’s why so many UK firms are making headway on climate plans. But they need help, and that means Government helping to clear the path for sectors to decarbonise.
Get this right and we protect the planet for future generations. Get it wrong and the UK loses the race to net-zero. Now is the time to ‘Seize the Moment’.
By Beckie Hart, regional director of the CBI
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