UK’s largest companies pledge hundreds of millions of pounds to tackle climate change

Builder fitting solar panels

Several large companies in the UK have pledged to spend hundreds of millions of pounds to help combat climate change.

Around 30 companies from the financial sector to high street retailers have unveiled plans to help cut emissions.

These range from installing solar panels on office roofs to provide power for thousands of homes, to overhauling fleets of diesel trucks.

HSBC has pledged to invest £250 million in solar parks and wind farms, while the John Lewis Partnership has committed to overhauling 500-strong fleet of diesel trucks.

The announcements coincide with the government’s first ever Green GB & NI Week.

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said: “Governments cannot confront this unprecedented global challenge alone.

“We need businesses around the world to step up to the mark and today our largest companies are leading the way, making significant pledges worth millions to cut emissions while continuing to grow the green economy.

“Today I’m calling on all businesses, from family farms in Herefordshire to banks in the Square Mile, to take action to mark our first ever Green GB Week. Whether it’s getting rid of plastic cups or installing solar panels – everyone business can play their part.”

It comes just days after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a report warning about the devastating effects of global warming.

Companies in the low-carbon heating sector will announce significant further investment in the industry, with companies including Engie, Vattenfall, SSE and Metropolitan committing more than £320 million of investment to stimulate growth in low carbon heating schemes for towns and cities across the UK, matching government funding.

Renewables have become a mainstream, cheap power source for the UK, generating 30% of our electricity a year. Half of this comes from wind alone, which powers more than 14 million homes annually, reducing the UK’s carbon emissions by over 25 million tonnes a year.

During this year, the UK has generated record levels of solar and offshore wind, went 3 days without using coal for electricity generation, launched its nuclear sector deal and set a target of all new cars and vans being effectively zero emission by 2040.

Useful links

Green GB & NI Week

The government’s Industrial Strategy to maximise the advantages for UK industry from the global shift to clean growth

Other significant pledges announced today (in alphabetical order):

  • Admiral Group will get 100% of its future controlled energy contracts from green sources, all water cups will be changed from plastic to paper and all hot food cartons will be recyclable and biodegradable in all on-site canteens
  • Amazon announced that it has signed a deal to power its UK buildings with 100% renewable energy as well as planning to deploy up to 20MW of large-scale rooftop solar systems on 10 of its fulfilment centres in the UK over the coming 18 months, generating the equivalent amount of electricity required to power over 4,500 UK homes
  • Barratt Homes will reduce construction waste intensity by 20% per annum (tonnes per 100m2) by 2025 and they will procure renewable energy for 100% of non-landlord supplied offices by the end of October 2018
  • Coca-Cola London Eye will light up green to signal the start of Green GB Week and its support for the mission
  • Deloitte has already targeted the highest sustainability standards in their new London headquarters – and they pledge to apply the same principles to all future UK office fit-outs
  • EDF Energy, the UK’s largest producer of low-carbon electricity and the biggest supplier of electricity by volume in Great Britain, have committed to electrifying their own fleet, currently around 1,500 vehicles, by 2030, double the objective set by the government by that same deadline and saving up to 6.2 metric tonnes of CO2 a year as a result
  • Hargreaves Lansdown will save hundreds and thousands of pieces of paper by transferring more investments and pensions between providers online
  • HSBC UK Pensions Scheme will invest £250 million into the UK’s thriving renewable energy infrastructure, investing in solar parks and wind farms around the country
  • John Lewis Partnership will revolutionise its 500-strong fleet of John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners delivery trucks, turning their current diesel lorries into bio-methane clean machines by 2028 cutting emissions by over 80% and saving more than 49,000 tonnes of CO2 every year – equivalent to the carbon footprint of just over 6,000 UK households
  • KPMG will replace all single-use plastic cups in every hot drinks dispenser with compostable or paper cups
  • Lidl and Tesco have launched their brand new zero-deforestation soy policies – setting out how zero-deforestation commitments will be implemented by 2025 – almost half of all tropical deforestation since 2000 was driven by global soft commodities like soy and palm oil