UK’s largest companies pledge hundreds of millions of pounds to tackle climate change

16 October 2018

Credit: Shutterstock
Credit: Shutterstock

Top businesses across the UK have announced their significant pledges – worth hundreds of millions of pounds – to tackle climate change, marking the Government’s first ever Green Great Britain & Northern Island Week.

Around 30 of the UK’s largest companies, from financial services to high street retailers, have unveiled plans to help cut emissions, including installing solar panels on office roofs to provide power to thousands of homes and overhauling fleets of diesel trucks.

The UK is already a world leader when it comes to tackling climate change, cutting emissions by more than 40 per cent since 1990: more than any other G7 country on a per person basis, whilst also growing the economy.

Through the modern Industrial Strategy, the Government will continue to maximise the advantages for UK industry from the global shift to clean growth by leading the world in the development, manufacture and use of low-carbon technologies and services. The number of ‘green collar’ job opportunities could reach 2 million by 2030 as part of this drive.

As Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry, minister for Energy and Clean Growth, said: "Governments cannot confront this unprecedented global challenge alone.

“We need businesses around the world to step up to the mark and today our largest companies are leading the way, making significant pledges worth millions to cut emissions while continuing to grow the green economy.

“Today I’m calling on all businesses, from family farms in Herefordshire to banks in the Square Mile, to take action to mark our first ever Green GB Week. Whether it’s getting rid of plastic cups or installing solar panels – everyone can play their part.”

To introduce just some of the many, significant pledges that various top business have put forward:

· Amazon have announced that they have signed a deal to power its UK buildings with 100% renewable energy, and also introduced plans to deploy up to 20MW of large-scale rooftop solar systems on 10 of its fulfilment centres in the UK over the coming 18 months. This will generate the equivalent amount of electrical energy required to power over 4,500 UK homes.

· Coca-Cola London Eye will light up green to signal the start of Green GB Week and its support for the mission.

· EDF Energy, the UK’s largest producer of low-carbon electricity and the biggest supplier of electricity by volume in Great Britain, have committed to electrifying their own fleet, currently around 1,500 vehicles, by 2030. This is double the objective set by the Government by that same deadline, and will save up to 6.2 metric tonnes of CO2 a year as a result.

Credit: Shutterstock
Credit: Shutterstock

· HSBC UK Pensions Scheme will invest £250 million into the UK’s thriving renewable energy infrastructure, investing in solar parks and wind farms around the country.

· The John Lewis Partnership will revolutionise its 500-strong fleet of John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners delivery trucks, turning their current diesel lorries into bio-methane clean machines by 2028 – cutting emissions by over 80% and saving more than 49,000 tonnes of CO2 every year. This is equivalent to the carbon footprint of just over 6,000 UK households.

The news comes just days after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a report that warned about the effects of climate change. The Government responded on Monday 15th October by seeking advice from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) about setting a date for achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions. As part of the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy, it is committed to growing a clean, green economy in which both businesses and the environment can thrive.

Today, companies in the low-carbon heating sector will announce significant further investment in the industry, with companies including Engie, Vattenfall, SSE and Metropolitan committing more than £320 million of investment to stimulate growth in low carbon heating schemes for towns and cities across the UK, matching government funding.

Justin Laney, partner and general manager of Central Transport, John Lewis Partnership, said:

“We have been pioneering the adoption of long-distance biomethane trucks in the UK, and scaling this up to our entire heavy truck fleet will deliver significant environmental and operational benefits.

“Five biomethane trucks produce the same emissions as one diesel lorry and they are also much quieter, helping reduce not only greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution but also noise pollution in our cities.”

Renewables have become a mainstream, cheap power source for the UK, generating 30% of our electricity a year. Half of this comes from wind alone, which powers more than 14 million homes annually, reducing the UK’s carbon emissions by over 25 million tonnes a year. 

During 2018, the UK has generated record levels of solar and offshore wind; it has gone three days without using coal for electricity generation; and it has both launched its nuclear sector deal and set a target of all new cars and vans to effectively be zero emission by 2040.

Such significant boosts show that more and more businesses are now seizing the opportunities presented by this ‘clean-growth’ revolution.

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