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UK business warms to Labour’s net zero policy: Is change afoot?

london net zero
Green & Good (ESG and Impact)
Public Affairs
general election 2024
net zero

As London swelters under today’s almost-30°C heatwave, the city is buzzing with net zero events, each underscoring the urgent need for our incoming government – whoever it may be – to put in place the right policy levers to effectively tackle climate change and get the UK back on track to meet its 2050 commitments.

In today’s newsletter, our team on the ground provides their reflections from today and insights learned from the business community.

It was clear that Labour’s recent manifesto launch has landed well with the net zero business community. There seems to be a sense of relief and excitement, rather than apprehension at the prospect of Sir Keir Starmer in Downing Street. Whilst some have previously argued that there isn’t a huge difference between Labour and Tory climate policies, it seems business is eager for change – echoing the general sentiment across the UK.

However, the business community still has a thousand and one questions for Labour. Talking to a wide cross section of business across the UK, the overriding emotion of today was one of curiosity. What business leaders want is specific answers and clarity on a host of detailed policy positions.

A common theme throughout today’s events was an agreement that the UK has the capability to deliver on net zero – through tech and an established understanding of what needs to be done – but government policy has continued to get in the way of delivery.

A key challenge for the Tories during this General Election has been their dwindling delivery track record. Their former reputation as an international leader on net zero has been truncated by their post-covid policy flip-flopping in relation to decarbonising our energy network, housing and transport sectors. This has allowed Labour’s message of being pro-business and pro-growth to land firmly with the business community.

What industry now wants to hear is more about the difficult stuff, directly relevant to their particular sector, and how Labour plans to tackle it. From financial services to manufacturing, property and sustainability sectors thoughts are turning to ideas to promote to ministers which move the economic growth dial that brings prosperity to the UK. 

This is great news for Labour as it seems business is eager to work hand in glove with their government to get the UK back on track to meet its net zero commitments and return the country to a leader in this field.

Today has made it clear that expectations of Labour are high. Everyone wants a change in the mood music and mindset. Quite how long a honeymoon the potential future Labour Government would have is more difficult to gauge. Our sense is it is just a matter of months, due to the volatility and sense of anger, anxiety and alienation that has infected the public and political mood.

Business and voters share the sense that it’s time for a change, but beyond that, the path to a brighter future is much less clear to the majority of business. Labour will need to fill this gap in its first 100 days if it wants to retain its current pro-business position.