New report seeks to hold government to account on scale up of climate innovation

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Chi Onwurah MP launches the report

Chi Onwurah MP launches the second ClimateTech Policy Coalition report

Latest ClimateTech Coalition report provides a status update on UK government policies to support climatetech innovation and the future green economy.

As we look towards an election year in 2024, these recommendations remain vital to unlocking climate innovation, empowering sustainable businesses and realising net zero visions for the future. Alyssa Gilbert Director of Undaunted & Director of Innovation at the Grantham Institute

Imperial’s climate innovation initiative, Undaunted, is a founding member of the ClimateTech Policy Coalition, established in 2022 to represent cleantech startups within the policy space.

The Coalition works to unlock green growth and the zero-carbon economy of the future by communicating the unique challenges and opportunities that UK government policy creates for green startups. Its key aims are to give the UK’s climate innovation community a voice and provide actionable recommendations for policymakers.

The Coalition’s second annual report holds the UK government to account on its progress towards sector specific policies, regulations, and initiatives that support the scale and growth of UK climate innovation.

"I am delighted to be part of delivering this critical, and now annual, report," says Alyssa Gilbert, Director of Undaunted. "As we look towards an election year in 2024, these recommendations remain vital to unlocking climate innovation, empowering sustainable businesses and realising net zero visions for the future."

Building up a picture of how policy impacts innovation

Undaunted works alongside the Coalition’s fellow founding members – Startup Coalition, TechUK, Tech Zero, Tech Nation and Cleantech for UK – organisations that closely and frequently engage with a cross-section of entrepreneurs, inventors, and innovators at the forefront of climate technology.

The ClimateTech Policy Coalition represents a groundswell of innovators and inventors impatient at the pace of change… while the challenge may look ginormous, there are simple, short-term steps that can have an outsized impact. Charlie Mercer Deputy Policy Director, Startup Coalition

The first part of the approach is listening to early-stage founders on the ground. Founders who have progressed through Undaunted's climate innovation accelerator programme, now known as The Greenhouse, are such a group.

Over the past 12 years Undaunted alumni have been navigating the challenges that come with scaling up, and can provide vital insight into the realities of how policy impacts their ability to grow businesses that will help us to tackle climate change. Then its about identifying modes and channels to effectively communicate these findings back to policymakers – an iterative process that requires relationship building between contexts.

The Coalition’s inaugural report, published in December 2022, was the output of a series of intensive multi-sector roundtables featuring over 100 startups, who shared their main challenges, obstacles to growth and opportunities for improvement. These narratives were captured and combined into 28 low-, to no-, cost climate policy recommendations presented to government to unlock green growth and accelerate innovation, equipping policymakers and regulators with tangible steps to unleash the economy of the future and provide a platform for progress to be made.

"The ClimateTech Policy Coalition represents a groundswell of innovators and inventors impatient at the pace of change", says Charlie Mercer, Deputy Policy Director at Startup Coalition. "The climate crisis demands a faster response from the market and from policymakers. Critically, our work demonstrates that while the challenge may look ginormous, there are simple, short-term steps that can have an outsized impact. We look forward to partnering with Undaunted as we press this case into an election year and beyond."

Keeping government accountable

The Coalition’s second report, launched in November 2023 by Shadow Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, Chi Onwurah MP, follows more recent roundtables with Undaunted and Startup Coalition’s flourishing networks. It reflects on the past twelve months of climate tech policy, highlighting views from founders on the frontline, and examining progress made towards last year’s recommendations.

In summary:

  • Two recommendations have been enacted: the definition of greenhouse gas removal has been updated in law with the passing of the Energy Act, which will provide a small step forward in demonstrating the UK Government’s commitment to the engineered removals sector.

    Meanwhile, Ofgem has made progress towards scoping out a Policy Sandbox, which could be a vital tool in exploring innovation in the energy market and gives energy start-ups an additional gateway to experiment with the regulator.
  • Thirteen recommendations have made marked progress but still have some way to go. These included the need to create a consistent policy environment for climate tech, which was complicated by the Prime Minister’s pivot on messaging but has not materially led to dramatic policy change in the short-term.

    Also amongst these recommendations was the need to reform the pension charge cap, which has progressed significantly with the Mansion House reforms.
  • Three recommendations have marginally progressed, all associated with the building of a high quality, high integrity carbon market in the UK.
  • Ten recommendations have not progressed, including missed opportunities to advance innovation in the built environment, which is a critical sector in our net zero plans and requires intervening to ensure that the underlying regulations and metrics are incentivising the right behaviours. Undaunted’s upcoming Retrofit Accelerator programme speaks directly to this topic. Aimed at SMEs whose products or services are designed to improve the greenhouse gas footprint and/or climate resilience of the built environment, its Pilot Project will see innovators work together with stakeholders across London to identify and overcome barriers to the implementation of solutions in this sector. 

    Two of our transport sector recommendations were also included in this category, which was largely due to the missed opportunity of the Transport Bill being dropped from the Government’s priorities.

Find out more

As a Coalition we remain open to engaging with climate tech founders, investors, and policymakers into 2024 in support of these aims. Stay in the loop:

Reporters

Claudia Cannon

Claudia Cannon
Faculty of Natural Sciences

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Contact details

Email: c.cannon@imperial.ac.uk

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Cathal Hughes

Cathal Hughes
The Grantham Institute for Climate Change