Is it time British business turned up the heat on UK environmental policy?

What does your sustainability agenda aim for? 

A head-to-head is just around the corner: President Obama and 13 multinational companies have pledged to cut carbon emissions by 6 billion tonnes, while the UK's Conservative government stands accused of scrapping and watering down its environmental policies.

Obama's big launch in July was well received (by most), taking on the unenviable challenge of trying to break the USA’s reputation as a big polluter. Across the water here in the UK meanwhile, we have a re-elected Conservative government with a promising manifesto angled towards improving society, protecting our resources and environment and promoting development and change in our energy demands. However, the headline policy doesn’t appear to chime with the reality of a government making cuts and seemingly turning its back on sustainability.

Long term damage to the UK?

Some recent examples to consider: vehicle excise duty measures are not favouring low emission vehicles; funding has been withdrawn for the Green Deal energy saving improvements programme; solar subsidies have been removed; fracking is being waved through even in protected areas; and, most recently, controls within the waste sector may also be cut. Taken together, surely these decisions will cause long term damage to the UK and therefore the UK economy? Why are such short lived measures being considered when other leading nations are moving in the other direction?

More to the point, we don’t actually believe that the government’s direction is backed by business, with many big brands increasingly committed to sustainability.

Business, social and environmental ideals

Businesses including Goldman Sachs, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Walmart, Coca-Cola, Cargill and Alcoa have supported the carbon reduction pledge in the US. These global brands are also based here in the UK, of course. Many of our own home-grown companies openly share their own sustainability programmes, performance measures, targets and results. They already lead the market in best practice and demonstrate the reputational and supply chain security that comes from a well-aligned sustainability strategy that supports business goals. And we found at our recent sustainability leadership roundtable debate, held in Bristol, what we already suspected: many other companies, large and small, have the same business, social and environmental ideals as the global giants.

Have your say...

What does your sustainability agenda aim for? Does it go beyond legislative demands and align to your business objectives? Or are you fighting a battle to develop your own sustainability plan and lead the market, distinguishing you from the crowd and supporting a longer term security of supply and demand?

We’d love to hear your views, both to contribute to our next roundtable session and to add your voice to the latest call for evidence from government regarding reduction in red tape – we’ll be putting our members views directly to government with consolidated views, first hand examples and best practice (beyond producer responsibility), but only with your backing. With more evidence comes a louder voice so please get in touch with us directly, as well as contributing to our legislative review survey.

Robbie Staniforth

Head of policy

Having gained a wealth of experience in regulatory affairs, waste issues and secondary commodity market analysis, Robbie uses his skills internally as an operational board member and externally to influence legislation change as head of policy. He is responsible for liaising with government, regulators and industry organisations to articulate complex views and interests and to provide high-level policy expertise, industry insight and market analysis to our members.

Written by Robbie Staniforth Published 07/08/2015 Topics Sustainability

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