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Aviva Asks U.K. Government to Explain How It Will Reach Net Zero

Britain should align its “public spending and policy with net zero” and be clearer about how the country plans to cut emissions.

Cooling towers at a coal-fired power station in Ratcliffe-on-Soar, U.K.

Cooling towers at a coal-fired power station in Ratcliffe-on-Soar, U.K.

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

The British government should practice what it preaches on net-zero emissions, according to insurer Aviva Plc and conservation group WWF.

Having said last year that U.K.-based companies must detail how they will deliver on their 2050 emission-reductions goals, the government should now explain how it will do the same, WWF and Aviva said in a report issued Friday. The government should adopt a transition-planning process that aligns “public spending and policy with net zero” and provides “greater clarity on how net zero is to be delivered in the real economy,” the report said.

By being transparent about how a company, or indeed a government, plans to follow through on their medium- and long-term emissions targets, investors will have a better understanding of the level of ambition and preparedness. The U.K., which was the first major economy to enact a net-zero goal into law, has made climate leadership a key pillar of its post-Brexit identity and has pledged to make the City of London the world’s first financial center where finance flows are aligned with net-zero objectives.

“We operate within a market environment which is ultimately shaped by government and by regulators, so we need to see what their plan is for aligning the whole economy so that we can better describe how we're going to play our part,” Paddy Arber, Aviva’s head of government engagement, said an interview. “It’s also about increasing certainty within the market about the direction of travel of government policy.”

Britain should “introduce a framework that weaves net-zero transition planning throughout the machinery of government,” according to the report. In practice, that would require the Treasury to assess the aggregate climate change impact of spending and taxation. Additionally, each government department should produce their own net-zero transition plans and a central body should be created to coordinate and accelerate the overall initiative.

A U.K. government spokesman said “we already have a comprehensive plan to cut emissions through our net-zero strategy, which has been widely welcomed by a range of experts, including the independent Climate Change Committee.” He added that the country plans to accelerate the deployment of wind, nuclear, solar and hydrogen with a target of 95% of electricity being low carbon by 2030.