Business, finance, academia and civil society call on the UK Government to lead high ambition carbon pricing club at COP26

50 signatories including Tesco, Drax, Shell UK, Greenpeace and Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall have signed a declaration calling for the UK to drive an ambitious carbon pricing agenda at COP26.

The Zero Carbon Campaign has called on the UK government to commit to stronger and more consistent carbon pricing in its updated national climate plan, the headline of which is set to be published in the coming weeks. The call, outlined in the campaign’s carbon pricing declaration, has received widespread support from leaders across business, land-use, civil society, parliament and academia.

The declaration was delivered to the Prime Minister, Chancellor and COP26 President yesterday ahead of the international climate summit on 12 December and calls for the Government to:

  • Commit to introducing stronger and more consistent carbon pricing in the UK’s NDC
  • Encourage all jurisdictions to include new or strengthened carbon pricing commitments in their NDC, including ending state support for fossil fuel production
  • Make securing a global agreement on carbon pricing a core focus of the UK’s COP26 diplomacy, including building a ‘high ambition club’ of countries who are willing to demonstrate leadership on this front

The declaration – which is underpinned by the Principles for Pricing Pollution – has been signed by a wide range of organisations including Tesco, OVO Energy, Greenpeace, Green Alliance, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), the Green Finance Institute, the Nature Friendly Farming Network, Wildlife and Countryside Link, and the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), as well as a number of individuals, such as: former Transport Minister, George Freeman MP, Labour MP Barry Gardiner, Lord Turner (former Committee on Climate Change chair), Sam Hall (Director, Conservative Environment Network), Farhana Yamin (Climate Activist and Lawyer), Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Food Writer and Campaigner) and Eliot Whittington (Director of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group), and more [1].

The declaration arrives at a time of great uncertainty for UK business and industry; with just five weeks until the end of the Brexit transition period, the UK Government has yet to confirm which carbon pricing system the UK will adopt on leaving the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) on 31 December.

Whilst carbon pricing on its own won’t be sufficient, a clear pricing trajectory will be key to catalysing the scale of investment and innovation needed to reduce our emissions in line with the Paris Agreement

Dr Richard Benwell, CEO of Wildlife & Countryside Link, said: “Carbon pricing can help to make the nature-friendly choice the affordable choice for businesses and consumers. Alongside regulation and incentives for decarbonisation, and alongside wider application of the polluter pays principle, it is a powerful tool in creating a nature-positive economy.”

Nicolette Bartlett, Interim Executive Director at CDP, said: “The social and financial risks of failing to put a price on carbon are so evident that companies already price emissions voluntarily, but we must move past voluntary action. Whilst carbon pricing on its own won’t be sufficient, a clear pricing trajectory will be key to catalysing the scale of investment and innovation needed to reduce our emissions in line with the Paris Agreement.”

Anna Turrell, Head of Environment at Tesco, said: “At Tesco we want to play our part in reducing carbon emissions. That’s why we’ve brought forward our ambition to reach net-zero in our UK operations by 15 years. Carbon pricing would be a welcome step towards a net-zero future, helping us better account for our emissions impact and accelerate progress towards our 2035 target.”

Eliot Whittington, Director of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group, said: “As a coalition of businesses that are committed to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, the Corporate Leaders Group have always advocated the importance of ensuring the right signals are sent to the market. Strengthened carbon prices with greater coverage across the economy, deployed as part of a joined-up package of policies, would help ensure this and represent a strong statement of leadership ahead of COP26 next year. This is key given the UK’s role as President; which puts us in a unique position to catalyse climate ambition from other countries.”

John Sauven, Executive Director at Greenpeace, said: “The Prime Minister has shown he is ready to kickstart the UK’s green industrial revolution but he needs to go further. Accounting for the true cost of pollution for both people and planet is an immediate step the UK can take to show how serious we are about ending our reliance on toxic fossil fuels. Fair and effective carbon pricing could also reward people and businesses for making cleaner, greener choices as part of a just transition.”

The launch of declaration is the first of a series of interventions planned by the Zero Carbon Campaign in view of putting carbon pricing more firmly on the political agenda ahead of COP26.

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