Companies in the UK will be required to publish plans of decarbonising and transitioning to net zero, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak told COP26 on Wednesday.
Speaking at the global climate summit in Glasgow, Sunak said the new mandate is part of the UK’s plan to become “the first ever net zero aligned financial centre.”
“This means we are going to move towards making it mandatory for firms to publish a clear deliverable plan, setting out how they will decarbonise and transition to net zero with an independent task force to define what’s required,” he said.
It’s understood the task force will be comprised of members from universities, civil society groups, industry, and regulators.
Financial institutions and listed companies are expected to start publishing the plans in 2023, and the plans will need to include high-level targets to reduce greenhouse emissions, the steps companies plan to take to get there, and milestones ahead of 2050.
But although the publishing of the plans will be mandatory, the execution of them won’t be.
The aim of the policy is to increase transparency. The government will leave it up to the market to determine if transition plans put forward by firms are adequate or credible.
Sunak vowed to “rewire the entire global financial system for net zero,” which means “better and more consistent climate data, sovereign green bonds, mandatory sustainability disclosures, proper climate risks surveillance, [and] stronger global reporting standards.”
The chancellor also promised public and private funding for developed countries.
“Over the next five years, we will deliver a total of $500 billion [£366 billion] of investment to the countries that need it most,” he said.
Sunak pledged £100 million ($136.6 million) to the task force on access to climate finance to make it “quicker and easier” for developing countries to access the climate funds.
He also announced that the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero has rallied financial organisations “with assets worth over $130 trillion [£95 trillion] of capital to be deployed.”
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On the same day, 12 major media brands—including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky, and Irish national broadcaster RTÉ—signed up to a “Climate Content Pledge,” promising to increase the amount and improve the quality of their climate change storytelling.
The signatories together represent more than 70 percent of the time UK audiences spend watching TV and film.
The pledge was brought together by Albert, the screen industry organisation for environmental sustainability, and was being launched to coincide with COP26.
The BBC Director-General Tim Davie said he believes the pledge doesn’t infringe the public broadcaster’s impartiality because “the overwhelming consensus is that we as humanity are causing global warming,” while dismissing different opinions as “voices on the fringes.”
PA contributed to this report.