3 May 2021 • 5 min


The Importance of Net Zero. The Role of Government and Business.

By Ilaria Regondi, Her Majesty's Trade Commissioner for Europe, Department for International Trade (DIT)

As you are aware, the UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in November 2021. These climate talks will bring together heads of state, climate experts, businesses, cities and regions to agree coordinated action to tackle climate change. 

The summit will include five policy themes: Clean Road Transport, Energy Transitions, Adaptation & Resilience, Finance, and Nature-Based Solutions. Most – if not all – are very relevant to business and societies. Especially as we look to build back better from this unpreceded Covid-crisis, we are all currently mastering the challenges associated with these themes together.

The UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT), which I represent, is investing in a strengthened focus on clean growth across the 34 European markets in which it works. 

In this context, we want to work ever more closely with those European businesses who recognise the opportunity of clean growth, helping trade in the growing clean growth market and sharing the best of our collective innovative solutions.   

The UK’s clean growth market provides rich opportunities for investment, and world-leading expertise to support the accelerating transition across Europe. There is a key role for business leadership on climate change and green recovery. HMG’s target of bringing all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 is going to revolutionise the way our economy works and how we do business. 

As you know better than most, clean growth is relevant to all sectors of the economy, as new commercial opportunities arise. The Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan underpins this and articulates a set of priorities to build back better and to foster a green industrial revolution.

The commercial context in which we operate is also changing. Businesses are ramping up investments in clean growth solutions, joining the race to net zero and greening their supply chains as consumer preferences shift towards more sustainable goods and services.

It is not often that we can say this - but we are on track:

The UK economy has decarbonised fastest in the G20 since 2000. Between 1990 and 2018, the UK reduced emissions by 43% while the economy grew by 75%. 

Electric Digger

But we need, and will, continue to grow our economy by greening it. The Climate Change Committee’s recent report on the 6th carbon budget highlighted that low carbon investment must scale up to £50 billion each year to deliver Net Zero, supporting the UK’s economic recovery over the next decade.

Clean growth presents the most significant economic growth opportunity of the 21st century.

The UK's low carbon economy is estimated to grow by 11% between 2015 and 2030 – 4 times faster than the rest of the economy.

The Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, will mobilise £12 billion of government investment, spurring up to three times as much private investment by 2030.


As I mentioned, the UK has G7 Presidency and COP26 Presidency in partnership with Italy this year. All this brings even greater opportunities for championing climate change action alongside European partners.  

Almost 1,400 companies, covering 12% of the global economy, have joined the Race to Zero to date. Race to Zero is a global campaign to rally leadership and support for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery.

As Presidency, we are keen to showcase businesses setting ambitious net zero commitments by 2050 at the very latest, with a credible short term action plan to achieve this. This includes setting Science Based Targets and joining initiatives like the Race to Zero.

To galvanise ambitious climate action globally, we are looking to showcase and celebrate businesses making ambitious net zero commitments both ahead of, and at COP26.

To address this, we will deliver an ambitious programme of pan-European, multi-disciplinary activity.

There is currently also an open Expression of Interest process for applications to get involved in UK Government managed spaces at the Summit in Glasgow 2021. This includes opportunities such as hosting of events, creative installations, and exhibition space, and showcasing tech and innovation - across both the Blue Zone and Green Zone.

Invest in GREAT

Let me conclude by stressing why business is key in delivering net zero 2050 and to build back better: we as government can set the direction and provide frameworks. But business like yours are the driver and innovative force in delivering Net Zero.

We recognise unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, but we must maximise opportunities to recover better and put credible climate action at the heart of the green recovery to net zero.

We encourage businesses to lead by example, by joining the Race to Zero and galvanising action amongst peers and across supply chains.