In a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group says the target would help the UK fulfil the promises made in the Paris Agreement.
The letter marks the 10th anniversary of the UK’s Climate Change Act, and says that UK emissions have fallen by 40% over this time.
The group says the government should set clear long term goals so that businesses can plan for long-term success; and manage a smooth transition over time to mitigate risks of disruption.
‘Human ingenuity can achieve wonders’
The government has already asked its Committee on Climate Change for advice on a net-zero emission target, a move commended by the signatories.
“We believe that to fulfil the promises made in the Paris Agreement, advanced economies like the UK should aim for net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest, and hope the Government will carefully study the evidence in the recent IPCC report and set its ambition accordingly,” says the letter, which is signed by Leendert den Hollander, Vice President & General Manager, Coca-Cola European Partners; James Pearson, Managing Director, UK & Ireland, Danone; and Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever; among others.
“As business leaders, we understand that stretching goals bring challenges but we are also aware that the transition to a climate-safe world with net zero emissions is necessary, that the work to achieve this has already begun, and that human ingenuity can achieve wonders.
"When the government sets clear long-term goals, businesses can work to deliver higher ambition and ensure we are planning for long-term success.
“By making a smooth and managed transition over time, the risks of disruption to business operations can be mitigated. The UK can help set the direction of travel for businesses, giving clarity to planning, and decreasing exposure to climate risks, whilst allowing us to grasp the tremendous economic opportunities that this transition presents.”
The other signatories on the letter (which can be found in full here) are Peter Simpson, CEO, Anglian Water; Willie Walsh, Chief Executive Officer, IAG; Nigel Stansfield, President Interface EMEA; Keith Anderson, CEO, ScottishPower; João Pola, CEO, Signify UK & Ireland; Alistair Phillips-Davies, Chief Executive, SSE plc; and Steve Robertson, CEO, Thames Water Utilities Ltd.