Net Zero Council marks year of success and calls for year of action

By GOV.UK - 30th April 2024

Leaders of banks, energy companies, businesses and investors from across the UK convened in Whitehall on Monday 29 April to mark the first anniversary of the Net Zero Council.

Co-chaired by Energy Security and Net Zero Minister Justin Tomlinson and the Co-operative Group Chief Executive Shirine Khoury-Haq, the Council aims to help grow the economy by driving forward greener practices while ensuring British businesses can benefit from the UK’s world-leading clean energy transition.

The UK is first major economy to halve emissions since 1990, while growing the economy by around 80% - this success reflects the collaborative efforts between businesses and government to deliver on climate targets, exemplified by the Net Zero Council. 

In particular, having identified the need for businesses to have credible and consistent criteria to build action plans so they can reduce their emissions, the Council have produced Net Zero Business Sector Roadmap guidelines. 

The Council has reviewed industry-led plans representing around 80% of UK emissions, and has been able to ensure that businesses in a number of sectors including water, retail and new homes have clear, actionable plans to decarbonise as the Council enters its second year.  

Energy Security and Net Zero Minister, Justin Tomlinson, said: "As we celebrate the first anniversary of the Net Zero Council, it’s clear the collaborative efforts between business and government have seen real progress in driving decarbonisation across a range of sectors. 

"Our journey to Net Zero continues, and through this forum we will unlock the opportunities of the clean energy transition - steadfast in our shared mission to build a greener, more resilient economy for future generations."

Shirine Khoury-Haq, CEO of the Co-op Group and co-chair of the Net Zero Council said: "As we mark the first anniversary of the Net Zero Council’s work, the importance of dialogue between business, finance and government to ensure that we are working together to accelerate our transition to a cleaner, greener and fairer future, and seizing the opportunities that lay ahead, is more important than ever.

"I’d like to thank all the members of the Net Zero Council and all those who have supported the important work we have done so far, and I look forward to continuing this dialogue in the year ahead."

The Council has also supported the re-launch of the UK Business Climate Hub, providing an increasing number of small businesses with up-to-date and practical advice to reduce their emissions and help them access the resources they need.

Over the next 12 months the Council aims to: 

  • bring the industry-led roadmaps together to support further work to maximise decarbonisation opportunities across sectors and in priority areas
  • continue supporting SMEs by backing the expansion of the tools and resources provided by the UK Business Climate Hub
  • increase the public’s awareness of net zero, including providing toolkits for businesses to support engagement with their customers and supply chains

Martin McTague, National Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said: "While large corporates have had Net Zero plans and teams for some time, it’s small firms that make up over 99% of the UK business population. Small firms are keen to do their part to lower emissions, decarbonise and make progress towards net zero, but do so with little support and guidance – however together, they represent the greatest potential to make material difference.

"FSB was a founder member of the Net Zero Council as it offers a great forum to ensure that the diversity of small business experiences and business models are reflected on by government, energy suppliers and financial providers as they work out how to reduce energy use and cut carbon.  

"Alongside the government’s pilot scheme delivering energy advice and grant support, the forum has been key to developing crucial online information in the UK Business Climate Hub. Every business, from smallest to largest, has a part to play, and helping those businesses who don’t have a huge amount of resources to devote to green initiatives is vital."

Alistair Phillips-Davies, CEO, SSE plc said: "I have welcomed the opportunity to be a member of the Net Zero Council alongside other business leaders. The Committee’s work has reconfirmed to me the importance of SSE’s investment in clean energy infrastructure in delivering net zero and energy security, whilst also providing the platform for clean growth across the economy."

Lex Russell, Chair, Minerals Products Association, said: "Many sectors are relying on concrete and cement’s roadmap to net zero succeeding to decarbonise their own operations and activities. The Net Zero Council has taken a strategic lead in considering such decarbonisation dependencies between sectors as well as potential barriers, as the first steps to mapping an economy-wide route to net zero. This unique insight will be valuable in supporting future policy development to help the UK as a whole reach net zero."

Carl Ennis, CEO Siemens plc and Smart Infrastructure, GB&I, said: "The Council is an important forum for identifying and acting on shared Net Zero challenges and opportunities facing government and business.  I look forward to continuing this work, in particular addressing some of the common issues and barriers which the Council has highlighted, as well as working with different sectors to progress their Net Zero road maps."

Ian Stuart, Chief Executive, HSBC UK said: "The UK is well placed to seize the opportunities of a global transition to net zero, with advantages in areas like technology, innovation, advanced manufacturing and financial services. The key challenge is how we can work together to help businesses of all sizes and sectors realise these opportunities and increase the flow of finance and investment.

"The Council is already playing a vital role in identifying the actions we need to take, and I look forward to working with the Council as well as our customers – inclusive of businesses from across the economy – to deliver the ambitious and aligned action we need."

Ed Lockhart, Convenor, Broadway Initiative said: "The Net Zero Council has for the first time created the basis for sustained partnership between government, business and finance to deliver on the Net Zero target across the major sectors of the economy. After only a year in action the Council is already an essential mechanism for developing joined up plans for net zero, overcoming barriers, working on shared solutions and generating vital initiatives such as the UK Business Climate Hub."

... it’s clear the collaborative efforts between business and government have seen real progress in driving decarbonisation across a range of sectors. 

- Justin Tomlinson,Energy Security and Net Zero Minister
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