A comprehensive low-carbon skills strategy is essential
Integrate climate change and environmental sustainability into all stages of the national school curriculum
In a new report also released today, the Aldersgate Group calls on the government to accelerate progress in resource efficiency in order to achieve major benefits in terms of reducing emissions, reducing environmental impacts, creating jobs and economic resilience. Although government strategies have built a positive overall vision of resource efficiency, political commitments in this area have lacked ambition, pace and detail, and appear to have received limited buy-in from other ministries beyond. of the Ministry of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Greater resource efficiency across the economy would deliver significant economic and environmental benefits, with research suggesting such action would achieve 80% of the additional emissions savings needed to achieve the Kingdom’s fifth carbon budget. United with a net gain in gross value added of £ 9.1 billion. by 2030.
In its new report released today, Closing the Loop: Time to Tackle Resource Efficiency, the Aldersgate Group calls for much greater urgency, stronger intergovernmental collaboration and a more systems approach to improving resource efficiency across the economy.
The report sets out priority areas in which the development and implementation of existing policy proposals need to be accelerated, highlights policy gaps when new proposals are needed and makes specific policy recommendations to improve resource efficiency in the construction and automotive industries, two resource intensive sectors.
Key recommendations for the future of England’s resource and waste policy include:
- A comprehensive low-carbon skills strategy will be essential to support an economy-wide movement towards greater resource efficiency. This should include mainstream climate change and environmental sustainability into all stages of the national school curriculum, encouraging much more use STEM subjects, and expanding the scope of Apprenticeship tax standards. To support workers in need of retraining, the government should continue to provide financial support for training, upgrading and retraining through the National skills fund and encourage higher education institutions to offer a wider range of flexible and short courses.
- The government should facilitate greater trade in circular products and materials, by including the principles of the circular economy in the trade and sustainable development chapters of trade agreements.
- Resource efficiency should become an intergovernmental priority
- The government should speed up the implementation of the proposals that will have the fastest impact on improving product design.
- The environmental bill – which will introduce long-term and legally binding targets for waste reduction and resource productivity – should be changed to provide more robust intermediate targets which will provide businesses with greater clarity on the short-term policy steps the government will take to achieve long-term goals under the bill.
- New proposals should be made to tackle current market barriers that are slowing the adoption of more resource efficient business models.
The report also calls for a series of measures to increase efficiency in the resource-intensive construction and automotive sectors. This includes the introduction of design regulations for buildings, streamlined life cycle assessment methodologies for buildings and vehicles, and the introduction of mandatory product standards for building materials and vehicle components.
Nick Molho, Executive Director of Aldersgate Group said:
“Improving resource efficiency throughout the economy makes sense in every way: it reduces demands on the environment, reduces emissions, makes our economy more resilient to supply shocks and can develop supply chains and create jobs in areas such as recycling, repairing, remanufacturing and reuse. The Government has set itself great ambitions in 2018, but the time has come to move on to the delivery phase. What we need now is an urgent, intergovernmental and systems approach that improves product design, supports the development of new business models, and engages citizens to help reduce resource consumption.
Martin Casey, Director of Public Affairs for Europe at CEMEX said:
“CEMEX welcomes this important report from the Aldersgate Group and the scope of its recommendations which can advance the goal of real resource efficiency throughout the economy. It is essential that the policy framework, government and regulators proactively take note of this and enable businesses to maximize their resource efficiency potential and deliver on the promise of a truly circular economy.
Libby Peake, Head of Resource Policy at Green Alliance, said:
“We know that overconsumption of resources leads to both climate change and the degradation of nature and yet it is very rarely addressed by government policies. The good news, as this report points out, is that there are many simple steps the government could – and should – take to improve the situation, which would not only be good for the environment, but also for the economy. and the public. Now is the time to get started. “
Peter Jelkeby, Country Retail Manager and Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA UK & Ireland said:
“Developing a circular economy is essential for building a low-carbon business and society. At IKEA, our goal is to transform ourselves into a fully circular business. To do this, we are committed to designing all our products using only renewable or recycled materials, and to developing circular services. As such, we fully endorse the recommendations of this timely report and the call on the government to accelerate its progress in resource efficiency, ahead of COP26, making the UK a leader in this area. We also welcome the call for more green jobs, firmly anchored in the skills we will need to make the circular economy a reality. At IKEA, our Recovery department employs over 350 people in the UK. Not only do they play a vital role in helping us fight for zero waste, they are also a living example of how we are creating the retail workforce of the future; support a circular and green economy and our collective journey towards climate positivity. “
Dr Adam Read, Director of External Affairs of SUEZ said:
“If we fail to get the BEIS, DEFRA, MHCLG and DfT to develop policies that complement each other and support societal change in a holistic way, we could end up with a number of unintended consequences that undermine our momentum. towards greater resource efficiency and sustainability. This welcome report from the Aldersgate Group highlights another major concern of SUEZ, which is the government’s lack of real attention to actually reducing consumption and encouraging reuse, recharging and repair. The portfolio of recent policy reforms that have been widely consulted mainly focus on driving better recycling, as DEFRA’s waste prevention program has failed to achieve a real consumption reduction target and underscores the important role of the consumer in this process. The UK needs leadership around better citizen awareness campaigns, eco-design of products, lifecycle thinking and closed-loop materials management, and it has to happen soon if we want to give ourselves a chance to decarbonise by 2050. ”
Anna Turrell, Environmental Manager at Tesco said:
“If we are to achieve our shared ambition of achieving a net zero economy, we must rethink how we manage the resources at our disposal more efficiently. We support the Aldersgate Group’s recommendations that the solution is to create a closed-loop circular economy and that this will require substantial action from business, industry and government. We are playing our part and working with partners to achieve this ambition, for example on packaging, eliminating and reducing single-use packaging wherever possible, introducing reusable alternatives and ensuring that everything that is remains either recyclable as part of a closed loop. “
David Symons, UK Sustainability Director at WSP, said:
“The more efficient use of materials is an easy way to increase Britain’s productivity, increase resilience and contribute to a net zero economy. The government has a great opportunity to step up the pace of waste management – growing the economy and tackling one of the public’s highest priority environmental issues.
Julia Barrett, Director of Sustainability at Willmott Dixon, said:
“The built environment consumes almost half of the materials extracted in the world each year. So, as this report indicates, we need to systematically rethink the way we design, construct and use buildings. At Willmott Dixon, we have set a goal of zero avoidable construction waste by 2030 and we welcome the recommendations made today: for the government to urgently accelerate the transition to the circular economy using fiscal mechanisms for behavior change, for public procurement to demonstrate leadership, and for the creation of inter-ministerial policies and standards to promote resource efficiency.