As the race for the next Prime Minister reaches the final two, IEMA’s Public Affairs Officer, Asim Ali, looks at why prioritising net zero should be a must for them and how it can help the UK achieve other policy goals.

The next decade is critical for our net zero strategy. If we are serious about achieving the net zero emissions target by 2050 and transitioning the economy onto a cleaner footing, we have to make significant inroads over the next few years.

The science is clear that human-induced climate change is causing more frequent and extreme weather events.

As such, recent record-breaking temperatures have been accompanied by health warnings from the Met Office and have exposed gaps in the resilience of the UK’s transport and infrastructure. These events paint a picture of what life could look like more often in the future without intervention now.

It is integral that the UK tackles the climate emergency and embeds more sustainable practices across all economic sectors to help achieve the 2050 target. As the Conservative Party seeks to elect a new leader and Prime Minister, it is important that the net zero agenda forms a central component of their programme.

There are concerns that the next PM’s in-tray may overflow as they seek to address a spiraling cost of living crisis due to rising fuel and food costs, putting our climate commitments on the back burner, at a time when we are already falling short. There are others who believe that the environment is simply not a priority issue for those contesting the leadership full stop.

Whilst tackling the cost of living crisis and delivering leveling up are essential, the new PM must put net zero at the forefront of achieving these aims.

A transition to clean energy could help households with everyday bills, while a move to net zero will create new jobs, deliver growth across the UK, and improve air quality, which are important contributors to leveling up. We have already seen 56,000 new jobs in the last 20 months in clean industries, with the scope for a further 440,000 jobs to support net zero delivery.

SMEs (small and medium enterprises) will play a big role in achieving the net zero target, it will not happen without them. Those businesses that have already started transitioning towards greener ways of working are reaping the rewards of the competitive advantage that this has brought. For those businesses yet to make a move, there are a variety of strategic partnerships and new markets that are waiting to be unlocked.

It is vitally important that we make a just shift to a greener economy. One of the first steps will be to ensure a smooth journey to making all jobs greener. IEMA and Deloitte have delivered a report to help organisations gain the requisite green skills to do just this. You can read it here.

This blog is the first in a series of public affairs blogs that IEMA will be producing. Future blogs will explore themes such as the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill and the ongoing implementation of the Environment Act.

Photo of Asim 2
Asim Ali

Public Affairs Officer

Asim joined IEMA in May 2022 as a Public Affairs Officer. Prior to joining IEMA, Asim worked in a variety of roles for three Members of Parliament and interned for the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. He also holds an MA in Human Rights, Globalisation & Justice


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