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Government assembles industry powerhouses to spearhead net zero revolution

18 May 2023

The first-ever Net Zero Council has been formed in a bid to propel industry towards a greener future, potentially granting businesses £1 trillion for cutting emissions.

The inaugural meeting of this council, which took place on Tuesday 9 May, saw the leaders of the world's leading banks, energy companies, technology giants and finance firms converge to tackle the urgent challenges posed by climate change.

Co-chaired by Energy Minister Graham Stuart and Co-op Group chief executive Shirine Khoury-Haq, the Council will support industry to help cut their emissions, and develop greener practices – as well as delivering on the Government’s priority to grow the economy by finding ways to ensure British businesses can benefit from the UK’s world-leading position in renewable technologies and achieving net zero, and export their expertise globally.

Co-chaired by Energy Minister Graham Stuart and Co-op Group CEO, Shirine Khoury-Haq, the council aims to support industry to nurture sustainable practices and cut carbon emissions. 

It also strives to deliver on the Government’s pledge to grow the economy by fostering a climate for British businesses to benefit from renewable technologies and enabling them to export their expertise worldwide. 

The council, which includes Siemens, SSE, HSBC, NatWest, and Lloyds of London, will convene quarterly, ensuring businesses are integral to achieving the Government’s net zero goals. 

Energy Minister Graham Stuart articulated the council's overarching purpose, stating, “The Net Zero Council provides the high-level forum for [the] Government, business and finance leaders to work together to unlock the opportunities of the green transition.

“Tackling emissions can make businesses more energy efficient, improve UK energy security and, in turn, cut costs. It can open up opportunities to export UK-developed solutions around the world, expand UK market share and create jobs.

“The UK has cut its emissions more than any other major economy and the Net Zero Council – meeting today for the first time – will ensure that leaders of UK businesses can help guide government and vice versa so that our environmental leadership translates into economic advantage.

“The Net Zero Council includes some of the most senior business and finance leaders in the country. I am grateful that such extraordinary people are prepared to contribute their knowledge, experience and talent for the benefit of both this country and future generations.”

In 2020, the UK was estimated already to have over 400,000 jobs in low-carbon businesses and their supply chains, with a turnover of £41.6 billion. Over 80,000 green jobs are currently being supported or are in the pipeline because of new government policies since 2020, with that expected to increase to as many as 480,000 in 2030.

The new council identified construction, manufacturing, retail and water and waste as priority sectors to support and focus on, alongside the UK’s university and R&D sectors, with the capability to build cutting-edge technologies of the future, such as green aviation, hydrogen, CCUS and batteries.

The key objectives of the council are:
• working to ensure sectors and companies have a pathway to net zero, including looking at the barriers and connections across sectors
• leading a systematic review of the financing challenges and the respective roles of government, industry and the financial sector in addressing them
• identifying key challenges facing SMEs up and down the country in reducing their carbon footprints and supporting their transition with new information and advice

Co-op Group CEO, Shirine Khoury-Haq, concluded: “We are in the grip of a climate crisis of humankind’s making and this is the single most important issue that the global community faces. It is vital that all businesses actively contribute to the net zero journey with vigour, as failure to seize this opportunity simply cannot be an option.

“I look forward to working with [the] Government – who have a role too - in driving industry to go further, as it’s clear we must all reduce carbon emissions at a faster rate.”

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