How can public utilities better address policy and regulatory risk to increase resilience?

The last few weeks have seen important moves in the financial community to improve and increase reporting in terms of climate issues. Whilst the work of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures [i] is to be warmly welcomed in terms of helping to tackle climate risk, on its own, this will not lead to resilience in UK utilities. Althou...

Sustainability principles for a disrupted world

The underlying principles that policy makers and regulators use to guide their every-day decisions need to be transformed if we are to survive and thrive through Covid-19 and the biodiversity and climate crises . Sustainability First's latest Viewpoint: A question of principle? paper examines the need to change our economic approach - such as how w...

Bridging corona to a sustainable future

The coronavirus is the biggest shock in a generation.Peter Hennessy has said that we will look back and divide history into 'BC' and 'AC' – Before and After Corona.We are currently living in 'DC' - During Corona.Utilities are flat out on business continuity and resilience. But can we build a bridge through the pandemic to a more sustainable place o...

Coronavirus is a shock - and it can be a spur

With the coronavirus, everything is up in the air.It is forcing us to rethink the relationship between business, the state and society.This blog is based on a letter that I wrote to the Financial Times in response to an article by Jonathan Ford on 'stakeholderism'.The letter was printed on 16 th March. Jonathan Ford rightly points out that 'Stakeho...

Utilities can play a key role in unlocking local value. But to maximise impact, the focus needs to shift beyond regional growth to regional wellbeing

Putting on a hard hat and standing next to a digger can be a difficult photo opportunity to resist.As the Infrastructure revolution gathers pace, we can expect more pictures from across the country as new MPs do just this.There are many good reasons to do so. With significant regional inequality, 'levelling up' is the fair thing to do – between reg...

Ofgem: pointing the way ahead on de-carbonisation

2020 is already a defining year for the climate crisis.The COP26 Climate Conference in November will ensure all eyes are focused on the need for action.Turning talk into a meaningful international agreement on net-zero is not plain sailing. With the Government's 2050 net zero commitment, it is also a significant opportunity to show leadership at ho...

Everything has changed - yet nothing has changed

We've had a decisive election result – but what has changed in the utility space?  Some companies may feel that they have 'dodged a bullet' and that they are now 'off the hook' in terms of delivering on fairness and the environment.  That they are now free to return to 'business as usual'.  We strongly disagree and consider that our ...

Purposeful business – a major contribution from the British Academy. But what does it mean for climate change?

​ Over the last year, debate on the future of capitalism and 'inclusive capitalism' has taken off. A focus on corporate purpose has been at the heart. What this actually means and how to embed purpose in a meaningful way – so this doesn't just lead to CSR 'purpose-wash' – occupies many column inches. Last week the British Academy released its groun...

The consumer lived experience in energy and water

Guest Blog from Richard Hall, Chief Energy Economist, Citizens Advice To go alongside our recent Fair for the Future Project working note on 'Changes in the consumer lived experience in regard to fairness and the environment' , Rich has shared his perspective from Citizens Advice. We live in uncertain times.Some basic assumptions about how society ...

What do public purpose, philosophy and public service values mean for the energy and water sectors?

In the face of the nationalisation challenge, and concerns around social justice and democratic deficits, many energy and water companies have started to ask themselves fundamental questions about what they are there to do and the impact that they want to have as a business. Across a whole range of sectors, academics, politicians, and of course com...

Our waste, our resources - let's not waste the opportunity for more radical change

As we get back to work after the break, many of us will be reflecting on the fact that Christmas is often a time of excess.A time when much gets consumed – and much gets wasted: food, packaging and unwanted presents to name but a few. At the end of December the government published its eagerly anticipated Our waste, our resources: a strategy for En...

Walking the talk – what might a ‘Sustainable Licence to Operate’ look like for water and energy?

With almost a quarter of the population living on incomes below the poverty line (after housing costs), and with nearly one in three children living in poverty and the rate rising, the issue of fairness is very much in the public spotlight. As providers of universally used essential services, energy and water companies are in the front line of thes...

Time for a new approach to political and regulatory uncertainty and risk in the energy and water sectors

Uncertainty and risk relating to fairness and the environment are not new in the UK energy and water sectors.However, new challenges faced by the sectors demand a fundamental rethink of today's treatment and handling of both – be this by government, regulators, company managements and/or their investors.This is not simply about a nationalization ch...

Policy, regulation and public interest outcomes in energy and water: navigating a disrupted world

The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Climate change that may exceed 1.5° warming unless 'rapid and far-reaching measures are taken.'What Michael Gove has called 'the unfrozen moment'. What do these three disruptors – technological, climate and societal - mean for the UK energy and water sectors and what challenges do they pose for policy makers and re...

Don’t get tangled up in the pipes and wires

Don't get tangled up in the pipes and wires or purely hung up on returns, says Sustainability First Director, Sharon Darcy.  Instead ensure public interest outcomes flow through the RIIO2 framework 'like the lettering in a stick of rock' RIIO2, the new price control for energy networks, may not sound the most exciting development in the energy...