Opinion: I was on board BT and Barclays – Tories should be serious about climate crisis

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As Conservative Party candidates receive their ballots for the final leadership vote, the continued leadership shown by our government and innovative British companies in the fight against the climate crisis is one of Global Britain’s best examples.

The Glasgow Climate Pact, debated for months with hundreds of other countries and agreed at the Cop26 climate summit, was a triumph of British diplomacy. The UK government, which has adopted a commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, is deserving of its reputation as a global leader on climate.

Just eight months later, with the UK still presiding over the UN climate process, it is vital that candidates seeking to lead the Conservative Party and our country commit to ensuring climate leadership both at home and at home. maintain the world stage.

Green policy may seem like fair game if it promises to cut red tape. But the reality is that this agenda could not be more important in addressing the greatest challenges facing our country. Millions of families are rightly concerned about how they can afford to heat their homes this winter. That’s why the UK needs leadership that works with business to realize the incredible benefits and opportunities of climate action.

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According to recent research by We Mean Business Coalition, a four-person household would see a £2,500 drop in annual energy bills by switching to clean energy more quickly. This is a time when the UK can become a global leader in key industries such as clean technology, sustainability services and show other countries how beneficial this shift can be.

More than 280,000 jobs in the UK would also be created by an accelerated clean energy transition towards net zero.

I am delighted to see that both candidates who remain in the running for Conservative leadership have publicly committed themselves to the UK’s 2050 target. But goals alone are not enough. A UK government fully committed to climate leadership could create the policy environment and investment to unleash the incredible potential of UK business.

From my time as the lead non-executive director for the UK government, I know how quickly and effectively the state can deliver, when there is a clear direction from the top. I therefore urge those who aspire to lead our government and our country to be courageous, to understand the very real threat of the climate crisis to human society – as evidenced by the unprecedented heat waves we have seen recently – and in act in the public interest.

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I also know from conversations with business leaders how companies are already making the decisions and investments to achieve their own science-based net-zero targets. Hundreds of British companies are working to halve their emissions by 2030, but they need government help to deliver on these commitments.

That’s why business groups, working with Cambridge University’s UK Corporate Leaders Group, have insisted that “the next prime minister must put climate policy at the center and continue delivering net zero and restoring Britain’s wildlife”.

Business leaders are pragmatic and want stability and consistent policies. This allows them to increase their own investments at the required pace and avoid the risk of stranded assets or rising costs.

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By adopting supportive policies, the costs of clean technology will fall, allowing companies to take advantage of growing global markets. Not only will this create new jobs for the UK economy, but it will also increase exports to the UK as we can gain competitive advantage in these sectors.

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It will also help critically level the agenda to spread growth across the country, increase investment coming to the UK and improve air quality and therefore public health as a result of phasing out fossil fuels.

Put climate action at the heart of government decisions to address the energy and cost of living crisis. Continue our global leadership and support UK businesses to deliver a safer and cleaner future for the economy, for our communities and for our children and grandchildren.

Sir Ian Cheshire is the chairman of Channel 4; Spire Care Group; Menhaden Capital, and a non-executive director at BT. He is also chairman of the corporate climate group, We Mean Business Coalition. He was previously CEO of Kingfisher plc; chairman of Barclays Bank UK, and the non-executive chairman of Debenhams