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Businesses urged to commit to net-zero emissions or risk being left behind

Businesses must commit to tackling climate change and those that do not move fast enough are in danger of being left behind, a senior Government minister has warned.

Cop26 president designate Alok Sharma said that, while the Government is determined to “build back greener” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, it needs the support of business to do so.

He urged firms to commit to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest.

The Cop26 United Nations climate change conference is set to take place in Glasgow in November.

Confederation of British Industry (CBI) director-general Tony Danker said “we are way off track” when it comes to tackling the “seismic” challenge of climate change.

Addressing the CBI Road To Net-Zero conference, he said: “The world has no room for failure. The climate crisis is worsening and currently we are way off track.

“The UK, as Cop co-hosts, must achieve in Glasgow what previous Cops have not.

“Yes, we need to raise global ambitions but also push further, faster, harder than ever before to make this the boldest year of net-zero action yet.”

Mr Sharma said the support of business in meeting targets is crucial.

He told the conference on Monday: “We’re determined to build back greener as we recover from the pandemic, with the Prime Minister’s plans for a green industrial revolution.

“However, we can only meet our targets with business behind us. So I’m urging all companies to sign up to the Race To Zero campaign.”

He added: “The direction of travel is clear, the world is going green, creating enormous opportunities for those on the front foot, while those that do not move fast enough will be left behind.”

He urged firms to switch to clean power, swap polluting vehicles for those that have zero emissions, and commit to removing deforestation from supply chains.

Mr Danker called on the Government to help unlock the considerable resources of the private sector by publishing new guidance on heating and transport.

The Government has targeted a plan for the whole country to reach net-zero – no more emissions than are offset – by 2050, and to slash emissions by 78% by the middle of the next decade.

The CBI is urging action in three key areas over the next five months.

A heat and buildings strategy must be set out to help deliver green buildings, including plans to ensure that all new boilers are hydrogen-ready after 2025, it said.

Climate experts say that decarbonising heating in homes will be one of the biggest challenges for the UK’s climate ambitions. A majority of UK households rely on gas for heating.

The CBI is also calling for new timeframes to be set for the next round of offshore wind, and asking the Government to publish an electric vehicle plan before the end of the year.

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