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UK Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener Is A Better Goal Than Build Back Better

Earlier in October, the UK government announced a new net zero strategy with policies and proposals for decarbonizing all sectors of the UK economy to meet their net zero target by 2050. The announcement is accompanied by a 368 page Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener policy paper with some of the critical details necessary to guide the roadmap. The next steps are to “cut our emissions, seize green economic opportunities, and leverage further private investment into net zero,” in the words of the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. The connection between economic growth and going green (eg reducing emissions) is one the report emphasizes, with good reason - the transition may be expensive, but we should value the economic opportunities created along the way, such as developing new technologies, industries, and jobs.

The report repeatedly highlights how technology is an important contributor to achieving net zero, such as technology for carbon capture, electric vehicles, and renewable or cleaner energy sources. Look more closely and you will find a few references to how and when digital will make a difference:

  • Enabling UK’s energy digitalization strategy
  • Driving efficiency into supply chain decisions with digital tools
  • Connecting investors and net zero businesses via a digital platform
  • Supporting the development of solutions for ESG data and disclosures in a digital testing environment
  • Acknowledging workers require more digital and data skills for the transition in housing retrofit, solar, nuclear, and vehicle electrification

The report also emphasizes the value in empowering the public and businesses to make green choices, an objective we believe is at the core of ESG and sustainability software and services. We know that many corporates continue to struggle with bringing together the data they need for ESG reporting and disclosures, let alone the data needed to make essential decisions that will bring them closer to their net zero emissions targets. The principles outlined in the UK report are absolutely on target with what corporates should ask from their government:

  • Send clear regulatory signals
  • Make the green choice the easiest
  • Make the green choice affordable
  • Empower people and businesses to make their own choice
  • Motivate and build public acceptability for major changes
  • Present a clear vision of how we’ll get to net zero and what the role of business will be

For ESG and sustainability software and services providers, these principles also outline how they need to support their customers and customers’ internal and external stakeholders. Although the report doesn’t guarantee success, at least it emphasizes the need to prioritize the transition to a more sustainable business model. As an American, it’s tough for me to criticize a government that is a step ahead of my own in terms of sustainability. Building back greener is much more essential than just building back better. Still, it needs to be asked – could we keep the marketing to a minimum and focus more on speeding actual progress?

For more details on what the UK net zero strategy means for commercial building owners and operators, please read the blog from our Smart Building colleagues. In addition, the UK announcement comes ahead of the upcoming COP26 summit run from 31st October to 12th November in Glasgow. We’ll continue to review the news from the summit and share our analysis with you.

ESG UK Net Zero Strategy Build Back Greener Is a Better Goal Than Build Back Better

Kim Knickle

Research Director, ESG & Sustainability, Verdantix
Verdantix

Addressing business challenges and priorities in ESG and sustainability through technology. Specialties: manufacturing and retail industry subject matter expert, thought leadership, storytelling, emerging technology research and analysis (cloud, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, computer vision, IoT), sales enablement, competitive and SWOT analysis, market research, research operations.