At COP26’s Finance Day (Wednesday 3 November), Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced plans for the UK to become the world’s first net zero aligned financial centre. Within this, the Government will set up a Transition Plan Taskforce - a group of leaders in industry, academia, regulation and civil society - who will determine a gold standard for transition strategies. These firm commitments are welcomed by the British Science Association (BSA), particularly as they resonate with recommendations from the BSA’s For Thought series held earlier this year.

One of the recommendations from the BSA’s For Thought report Build better called on the Government to develop a similar UK Net Zero Delivery Board, accountable for the UK’s pledge to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The idea was first suggested by Cambridge Zero, and is based on the 2012 Olympic Delivery Board that oversaw the lead up to the London games.

In becoming a net zero aligned financial centre, financial institutions will be required to publish the steps they plan to take in decarbonisation. The Transition Plan Taskforce’s role will be to establish robust standards against which businesses’ plans to achieve net zero will be reviewed, drawing on expertise from across the climate science sector and society.

The BSA’s For Thought series invites leaders from across business, science and society to debate the most pressing issues facing the UK. One of this year’s topics addressed the challenge of ‘creating environmental prosperity’, with speakers including Dr Emily Shuckburgh OBE (Director, Cambridge Zero), Sir David King (Former UK Special Envoy on Climate Change and Founder of Centre for Climate Repair at Cambridge) and Nero Ughwujabo (Former Special Adviser to Theresa May on Social Justice, Young People & Opportunities).

Katherine Mathieson, Chief Executive of the British Science Association says:

“It’s really encouraging to hear about the Transition Plan Taskforce. The recommendation for a UK Net Zero Delivery Board, which came out of the BSA’s For Thought series, reflects an appetite for this type of cross-sector expertise leading the way in achieving net zero. As well as including people from different professional backgrounds, it will be key for the Government to ensure the Taskforce is representative of the UK as a whole.

“As part of For Thought we spoke about environmental prosperity. It is essential that perspectives from people and communities underrepresented in leadership positions, but who are disproportionately affected by the transition to net zero, are part of this decision making. For instance, the youth voice and those from more rural parts of the country.”

Another speaker from the For Thought event, Afsheen Kabir Rashid, Co-founder Director & CEO of Repowering, a charity that helps communities fund, install and manage their own clean, local energy, said during the discussion:

“If we want to get to net zero, we need to bring people with us. It will not be possible to get close to meeting our target without engaging people – that is absolutely key to our future.”

Read the full report Build better: What can be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to construct a resilient, innovative and prosperous future for all.

Watch the launch of the report at the For Thought summit event..