UK gov must match investment industry’s green ambitions

Chris Skidmore's net-zero review has been largely welcomed

The investment industry is asking the UK government to align its net-zero plans with that of the industry’s off the back of Conservative MP Chris Skidmore’s review.

The former energy minister today published Mission Zero – Independent Review of Net Zero in which he urges the government to do more to engage with businesses on green growth and sets out 129 recommendations on how to do so, including creating sustainable governance structures, creating incentives for green businesses and increasing transparency.

The review has largely been welcomed by the investment industry, which has seen its recommendations reflected there, serving as an opportunity for the government to take on its suggestions.

“Today’s net-zero review proves the private sector’s ambition and determination to go further, faster, on net zero and it is now up to the government to match this ambition so the UK maintains its leading position on tackling climate change,” said Steve Malkin, CEO and founder of sustainability and net-zero certifier Planet Mark.

“Many of the recommendations we submitted to Mr Skidmore feature in the review.”

Similarly, James Alexander, CEO of UKSIF and ESG Clarity EU Committee member, said there is now the opportunity for the government to “meaningfully engage” with the review’s recommendations and to “more clearly recognise the enormous short and long-term economic benefits of the UK’s transition”.

More clarity on policy

Commentators also agreed with Skidmore’s suggestion for more policy clarity from the government, which the review, over its 306 pages of outlining missed policy opportunities, shows is lacking.

“The overriding message of the review is that we must deliver greater certainty, consistency, and clarity across net-zero policymaking, with a stability of approach that requires long-term planning,” Skidmore said.

“The unclear policy landscape continu[es] to be a major barrier for our members in driving lending and investment towards decarbonising the economy,” Alexander said.

Stephanie Pfeifer, CEO of the IIGCC, added: “To meet the ever-increasing requirement for more capital, investors need the UK government to not only maintain – and where possible – exceed its existing net-zero ambition, but to set a clear and stable policy vision underpinned by near-term actions and milestones.”

“Today’s review is a timely reminder of both the net-zero opportunity and the importance of clear, long-term government policy. Investors will now be keenly awaiting the government’s response to Chris Skidmore’s review and specifically how they propose to further unlock the necessary investment to keep the UK ahead in the global race to net zero.”    

Accelerate ambition

However, for Fergus Moffatt, head of UK policy at ShareAction, the recommendations in the review do not go far enough.

“While the report recognises the immense economic opportunity net zero presents to the UK, [Chris Skidmore’s] recommendations simply don’t match this ambition,” he said.

Moffatt said the review should have included measures that not only incentivise green investment, but that disincentivise investments in fossil fuels – such as the introduction of one-for-one capital requirements. He added sustainable disclosure requires and transition plans across the whole economy will only work if they are made mandatory.

“Fortunately, the government has an immediate opportunity to make these recommendations a reality by incorporating them into the Financial Services and Markets Bill currently being debated in parliament,” he added.

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Natasha Turner

Natasha is global deputy editor at ESG Clarity, part of the Bonhill Group, and has been a financial journalist for six years. She has been shortlisted for Story of the Year and Investment Journalist of...