Five ways UK can demonstrate leadership on transition to net zero

Aviva and WWF partner on net-zero paper calling for government action

UK insurer Aviva has teamed up with conservation charity WWF to issue a joint policy paper urging the government to harness the power of the financial sector in pushing for a net-zero economy.

The two companies have written the paper Transition Plans for a Net Zero Future, which outlines five steps the government needs to enact to demonstrate leadership in green finance and ensure a sustainable transition. The recommendations include mandating UK regulated financial institutions to develop credible transition plans to align with net zero and the 1 .5°C goal of the Paris Agreement, and developing clear frameworks companies across the economy can follow.

Amanda Blanc (pictured), Aviva group CEO said: “We’re living in the midst of a climate emergency and [as a company] we have a big responsibility to do something about it. Our new partnership with WWF will help us tackle the causes of climate change and help our customers and communities cope better with the consequences.

“We will campaign with WWF to ensure the financial sector gets its act together and makes a more significant contribution to a sustainable planet. WWF has a huge amount of expertise and influence in this area, and I’m excited about what we’ll be able to achieve together to help lead the financial services industry to contribute more to a low-carbon future.”

The five recommendations for the UK government are:

  1. The UK government should mandate UK regulated financial institutions to develop credible transition plans that align with Net Zero and the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement from 2023.
  • As an interim measure, ahead of COP26 the Treasury should recommend that regulators require regulated UK financial institutions to start producing Net Zero 1.5°C aligned transition plans by the end of 2022. 
  • The UK government should bring together regulators, industry and civil society to develop guidance on the most appropriate metrics, methodologies and specifications for transition plans.
  • The UK government should create a clear policy framework to drive Net Zero across the real economy, signaling the steps and timescales by which they will be met. 
  • In parallel, the UK should use its role in the G7, G20 and other multilateral platforms to encourage other major economies to mandate transition plans globally.

WWF and Greenpeace UK recently discovered UK banks and asset managers were responsible for financing 805m tonnes of carbon in 2019 – this is 1.8 times the UK’s annual net emissions.

Tanya Steele, WWF-UK chief executive, said:  “We know that the finance sector has a staggering climate footprint, and that simply has to change if we are to stand a chance of meeting the Paris Agreement targets of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. But as we look to build a greener, stable planet with a sustainable economy, the sector can also be a force for positive change. [With Aviva], we hope to inspire other financial institutions along this journey and to jointly call for ambitious government reform of the sector in the run-up to COP26.”

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Natalie Kenway

Natalie is global head of ESG insight for ESG Clarity and has been an investment journalist for 16 years. She won Editor of the Year at the Aviva Investors Sustainability Media Awards 2021, and was Winner...