Leading businesses urge Government to deliver recovery plan

Published:  01 June, 2020

More than 200 leading UK businesses, investors and business networks, including Lloyds Bank, Asda, Siemens, Aviva, Sky, Mitsubishi and Signify are calling on the Government to deliver a Covid-19 recovery plan that builds back a more inclusive, stronger and more resilient UK economy.

In an open letter, CEOs from across the economy have offered support to the Government in tackling the present health crisis, and urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to provide clear vision for recovery efforts that align with the UK's wider social, environmental and climate goals.

The letter, signed by 206 businesses, investors and business networks, states: ‘With the UK facing major economic and social concerns including the risk of high unemployment and rising regional inequality, we believe that an ambitious low carbon growth and environmental improvement agenda can do a lot to address these concerns, as well as make the UK economy better prepared to deal with future shocks such as those related to climate change.

‘[...] The current crisis, in moving us all away from business-as-usual, has already created shifts in how we operate, and we believe we must use the recovery to accelerate the transition to net zero. Efforts to rescue and repair the economy in response to the current crisis can and should be aligned with the UK's legislated target of net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest.’

The signatories come from both multi-national and national businesses, across industry sectors, including energy, finance, consumer goods, retail, construction, water and communication.

The business and investment networks supporting this initiative include The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG), the Aldersgate Group, the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), Business in the Community (BITC), the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) and The Climate Group.

Together they have called on the UK to deliver a clean, just recovery, that creates quality employment and builds a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient UK economy for the future with a plan that can:

• Drive investment in low carbon innovation, infrastructure and industries, as well as improved resilience to future environmental risks;

• Focus support on sectors and activities that can best support sustainable growth, increased job creation and accelerate both the recovery and the decarbonisation of the economy;

• Include within financial support packages measures to ensure receiving businesses are well managed and their strategies are science based and aligned with national climate goals.

The signatories acknowledge the climate leadership of the UK and call for continued ambition to drive action towards next year's COP26 summit and the G7, which will both be hosted in the UK.

António Horta-Osório, group chief executive, Lloyds Banking Group said: "We have all experienced the devastating effect that Covid-19 has had on our families, communities and businesses. We must make this experience count by working together to tackle the impacts of climate change. Financial Services has an important role to play, working with others to finance the solutions that will accelerate progress. That’s why we’re supporting this call to put low carbon growth at the centre of the economic recovery. Working together we can build a cleaner, greener and more resilient economy for the whole of the UK."

Colin Matthews, non-executive chairman, EDF Energy said: “There’ll be no healthy economy without a healthy population and a healthy planet. Investment to rebuild Britain after coronavirus should be aligned with industries and projects that support net zero. Prioritising investment in new low carbon infrastructure and energy projects will unlock high-quality jobs and investment in towns and regions that have been hardest hit by the crisis.”

Peter Simpson, CEO, Anglian Water Group said: "The need to rebuild our economy post-Covid-19 presents us not simply with an opportunity to create a fairer, more sustainable future, but a responsibility to do so. We stand ready to work with government to build back better."

Roger Burnley, president and CEO, Asda, said: “This crisis has upended the way we do business, even for those of us that have continued to trade, but in recovery there is always opportunity. Our new normal must be one that is more sustainable and more resilient to the challenges of climate change than before, and it is incumbent on all businesses and government to work together to make this happen.”

Dr Steve Waygood, chief responsible investment officer, Aviva Investors said: “We believe the UK government should help generate a sustainable recovery to accelerate delivery of the country’s net zero carbon commitments. Investors have an important role to play in financing a greener and more sustainable future. The UK government must ensure that the right incentives are in place so that finance flows to where it can be most effective for a sustainable economy.”

Heidi Mottram CBE, Chief Executive, Northumbrian Water Group said: "As a company committed to achieving net zero carbon by 2027, we are determined to take on the opportunity to build back better. Achieving this ambition is a challenge we are best placed to tackle if we work together, sharing experience and ideas, so that everyone benefits, and so does the environment. Our passion for the environment does not start and finish with our own operations – we can change the fundamentals of our economy for the better and we are determined to support that effort.”

Eliot Whittington, director, Corporate Leaders Group - coordinating organisation for the letter to the Prime Minister - said: “The UK needs a strong, sustainable economy able to withstand future shocks, and the Prime Minister’s plans to support a recovery after the Coronavirus pandemic must be cost-effective and focussed on building back better. The evidence is clear that a clean, resilient recovery is best for jobs, business, society and our environment.”

A link to the letter can be found here: https://bit.ly/3gBHfPO

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