Destination Net Zero: ABP leads cross-industry decarbonisation drive with Ready for Tomorrow strategy

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Among the event highlights was a panel discussion featuring ABP's Julian Walker, Suzanne Lowe, Vice President at Air Products. Nick Molho, Executive Director at Aldersgate Group, Tom Glover, Country Chair UK at RWE, Gus Jaspert, Managing Director Marine at The Crown Estate and Kari-Pekka Laaksonen, Group CEO at Samskip.

Yesterday marked the launch of the UK Government’s ‘Powering Up Britain – Energy Security Plan’, which aims to accelerate the transition to net zero by investing in key energy sectors such as wind, solar, nuclear, floating offshore wind and carbon capture and storage to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide cleaner, cheaper energy. In many ways, this commitment will enable industry to invest in green energy innovation with greater confidence.

As the leading ports group in the UK, with a network of 21 ports across England, Scotland and Wales, ABP is in a unique position to connect different industries and enable collaboration, innovation and progress in the sustainability arena. This was demonstrated in late February, when ABP transformed London’s iconic Gherkin into a vibrant hub for cross-industry discussions around how we can reach the UK’s net zero targets through collaboration. Brought together by the launch of ABP’s first net zero sustainability strategy, Ready for Tomorrow, guests from across the private, public and charity sectors celebrated the momentous milestone in the sustainability journey of a company that plays a vital role in enabling the decarbonisation of hard-to-abate industries.  

The event began with a presentation from ABP’s CEO Henrik L. Pedersen, which featured an overview of our plans to invest around £2 billion as part of our strategy, Ready for Tomorrow. These funds will be split between £600m in decarbonising our own operations by 2040 and £1.4m in supporting major infrastructure projects to enable the wider UK energy transition.

This was followed by an address by Rt Hon Graham Stuart MP, Minister of State at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, who outlines of the of Government’s key successes so far and emphasised the importance of dialogue between industry and policymakers to fully understand challenges and reach sustainability targets and foster innovation. His remarks highlighted the importance of delivering clean, secure and affordable energy supply for the UK economy in the face of twin imperatives of climate change and energy security.

In the subsequent panel discussion, senior representatives from Air Products, ABP, RWE, Samksip and The Crown Estate, considered the actions needed to practically achieve these outcomes at both scale and pace, including considering the right roles for businesses, governments and other organisations. Key themes which emerged during the discussion, included:

Key themes from the panel discussion

1.     The scale of the opportunity is huge: Despite the scale of the challenge of the Net Zero transition, there was a consensus on the scale of the environmental, social, and economic opportunities that it could and should bring. Securing a reliable green energy supply can go hand in hand with measures to enhance biodiversity and improve air quality in our towns and cities. Furthermore, this transition can serve as a driver for economic regeneration and growth, safeguarding jobs and creating new long-term opportunities in coastal communities and regions that too often face significant socio-economic challenges.

2.     The UK is in a global green race: There is a global race to lead this transition, with ambitious policies and support packages in the USA and the European Union designed to pull in investment in green energy supply chains. Many of the major industry players are global businesses and even UK headquartered businesses access globally mobile capital. The UK is a global leader in offshore wind, thanks to the Government’s support and leadership to date, but it risks being left behind due to uncertainty and indecision on key policies. The UK needs to act with boldness and pace to create a positive policy and regulatory environment for investors.

3.     Collaboration and partnership are essential: The need for collaboration is greater than ever. Individual businesses, or even whole sectors, will not be able to deliver the necessary scale of change in isolation. The role for partnership is evidenced by the growing number of successful partnerships between industries and local authorities, including Freeports and industrial cluster organisations. The panel discussion, and indeed the Ready for Tomorrow strategy more generally, demonstrated that there are major businesses already developing the partnerships required for large scale project delivery. Government also has a critical enabling responsibility, focusing on areas where it has a unique role to play, addressing key barriers to Net Zero progress faced by a range of industries:

Watch the full event video here:

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