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Businesses need to take “serious action” on tackling the climate change challenge, the director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is expected to say on Thursday.
Speaking at a COP 26 business dinner, Tony Danker will tell delegates that “this is a moment in history where every firm needs to step up and lead”.
He will say that the lesson learn from this year’s summit is that “governments can’t get to net zero without business. And businesses who fail to embrace net zero will get left behind.”
He is expected to say record levels of CEO attendance at COP26 indicates that net zero is no longer about reputation, but about commercial opportunity and that firms are “ready, willing and able to deliver a net zero world.”
Danker believes the UK is uniquely well-placed to succeed in green transition and is making decarbonisation its “big bet” post-Brexit and post-pandemic.
He will say net zero cannot be achieved without clean energy and without foundational industries – from agriculture, to mining, to building - shifting to sustainable ways of working.
In terms of the roles of business, he said: “Where governments have made progress – such as deforestation or technological breakthroughs - companies will immediately change policies and investments to follow suit.”
“Where governments have yet to agree, such as on carbon pricing, then the private sector cannot solve these shortcomings.”
For businesses, "this is also a commercial imperative. As policy and market demands shift, we must transform our supply chains just to keep up. Our customers, clients, investors and shareholders expect nothing less."
"To put it bluntly, in purely commercial terms, the cost of inaction is, for the first time, higher than the cost of action."
His suggestions for governments is that so far, they are used to being only the green rule-makers, but now they must learn to become green market-makers.
They can do this by pumping prime nascent markets such as hydrogen and battery cell production to make them grow, and design market mechanisms that guarantee investible propositions with returns such as contracts for difference in offshore wind.
He will also suggest using taxation to incentivise those who make green choices and penalise those who don’t.
He is expected to wrap up his speech by saying: "The CBI will regard it as mission critical to enable every firm in the UK to complete its successful net zero transition.”
Earlier this week at the COP26 summit, chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak said the UK is set to become the world's "first ever net zero aligned financial centre".
Sunak also lauded the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) for bringing together financial organisations with assets worth $130tn (£95tn) of capital to be deployed – "this is a historical wall of capital for net zero transitions around the world," he said.
Pledges come from more than 450 firms from all parts of the financial industry, based in 45 countries across six continents, and have been delivered through the GFANZ, which was launched by the UK to harness the power of the financial sector in the transition to net zero.
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