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Britain moves ahead with mandatory climate plans for companies


(Reuters) — Britain unveiled a new task force Monday to write rules forcing financial firms and listed companies to publish plans from next year for transitioning to a net-zero economy by 2050.

Last November at the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit, British finance minister Rishi Sunak said companies would have to publish a plan from 2023 with targets to mitigate climate risk, interim goals between now and 2050 and measures to meet them. 

It is part of Britain's commitment to make the country the world's first net-zero-aligned financial center.

The task force will develop “rigorous and robust” measures to tackle greenwashing - inflating green credentials - and help companies to establish "investable and accountable" transition plans, the finance ministry said in a statement Monday.

“Preventing the worst impacts of climate change will take all businesses developing ambitious, consistent transition plans to get us to a low-carbon future,” said Amanda Blanc, CEO of insurer Aviva and co-chair of the new Transition Plan Taskforce.

British financial services minister John Glen, who co-chairs the task force with Ms. Blanc, said it would be for investors to judge if the companies’ plans are adequate and credible. The government will publish its transition "pathway" for the financial sector later this year, he said.

Banks face pressure to scrap funding for fossil fuel companies.

“The idea that we can turn off the taps in fossil fuels tomorrow is obviously ridiculous and naive,” Bill Winters Standard Chartered bank CEO told CityWeek.

“First of all it's not going to happen, and, secondly, it would be very destructive. Good for climate change, but I am afraid it would be bad for wars, revolutions and human rights because you would have havoc,” Mr. Winters said.

Michael Sheren, a senior adviser to the Bank of England, told CityWeek that a price for carbon needed to be wired into how much it would cost companies to transition to net zero.

Steve Waygood, chief responsible investment officer at Aviva Investors, said valuations of companies would be inaccurate until this was done.

Valuations of companies will only be accurate once the price of carbon has been embedded in them and this required government action to mandate it, Mr.  Waygood said.