COP26 Update: Climate Risk Impact Assessment, New Business Group for Net Zero and Green Taxes

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As COP26 approaches, Brevia will be tracking the latest milestones in the UK’s preparations for the upcoming climate conference. This week’s developments cover the Climate Change Committee’s upcoming Climate Risk Assessment, the launch of the New Net Zero Business Group Alliance, and questions surrounding green taxes.

1.  CCC’s Climate Risk Assessment

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has announced the launch date for the UK’s Climate Risk Independent Assessment – the statutory advice published by the Committee on the UK’s climate change risks and opportunities. The assessment will be published on Wednesday 16 June with a launch event scheduled between 10.00am – 12.00pm.[1]

The assessment sets out the climate change risks facing the UK and is used to inform the Government’s third official UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA3), which will be published in 2022. This independent assessment is put together by the Adaption Committee of the CCC and is based off of evidence collected from the past three years involving over 130 organisations.

The CCC is hosting a launch event to discuss what the evidence indicates in relation to the UK’s vulnerability and exposure to climate change, as well as the cost implications and impacts of tackling climate change. Registration is free and be accessed through here.

2.  New Net Zero Business Group Alliance

On Thursday this week, a collection of the UK’s leading business groups formally joined together to launch the UK Business Group Alliance for Net Zero (BGA), with the aim of accelerating business commitments to net zero.[2]

The group is comprised of business groups such as the CBI, the Aldersgate Group and Renewable UK. The group will work towards coordinating UK business efforts to reach net zero, as well as build momentum to accelerate business responses to climate change.

The launch of the group was scheduled to coincide with the six month countdown to the start of the COP26 event in Glasgow. The group has worked together informally since 2019 and has coordinated a number of campaigns and initiatives, including a joint letter in November 2020 calling on the Government to set out an ambitious UK 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution by the end of the year.

The announcement follows the news that the UK is the leading the way on business commitments to net zero, with over 100 UK businesses now signed up to the UN’s Race to Zero, making the UK business community the largest single contributor to the pledge.[3] Drax is one of the most recent UK companies to join the initiative.[4]

3.  Support for Green Taxes

Questions around green taxes have featured in the media and Parliament this week, with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) issuing warning calls over the lack of leadership shown by the Treasury in its handling of environmental taxes. [5]

The PAC warned that there was a limited understanding of the impact of environmental taxes and of how the tax system should be used to support the Government’s climate targets. Specifically, the Committee criticised the lack of planning to manage the declining revenue from the fuel duty bill as people switch to electric vehicles.

The issue of fuel duty was similarly discussed during the Transport Committee’s evidence session on Monday, which looked at how to accelerate the transition to zero emission vehicles, as well as how to make up the lost income from vehicle tax and fuel duty. [6]

A number of polls tracking attitudes towards climate costs indicate that the public are more supportive than Government often gives credit for. For example, a poll by Britain Thinks found that a majority of the public were in favour of green taxes, with two thirds of respondents in support of taxing environmentally damaging behaviour. [7]

It is hoped that questions surrounding the cost of tackling climate change will be set out in the Treasury’s Net Zero Spending Review, expected this summer, which should provide some welcome clarity and direction on how the costs of achieving net zero are to be distributed.

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Notes

[1] Chris Stark, Twitter, 29 April 2021, link

[2] Corporate Leaders Group, ‘UK Business Group Alliance for Net Zero’, 29 April 2021, link

[3] Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, ‘Third of UK’s biggest companies commit to net zero’, 30 March 2021, link

[4] Drax, Drax signs up to ambitious Race To Zero climate commitment, 29 April 2021  link

[5] Public Accounts Committee, Lack of “understanding, leadership and coordination” at HMT and HMRC in face of global “climate storm breaking all around us”, 28 April 2021, link

[6] Transport Committee, ‘Zero emission vehicles and road pricing examined’, 26 April 2021, link

[7] Green Alliance, ‘The green light for change: What people think about environmental tax reforms’, 23 April 2021, link

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