Responding to UK prime minister Rishi Sunak’s speech setting out changes to the government’s green policies, ICAEW chief executive, Michael Izza, said: “The Prime Minister’s decision to water down climate policies is extremely disappointing and at odds with the UK government’s own commitment to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Ultimately, this will prove to be an expensive move, with costs that will be borne by people, business and the economy.

“Globally we are nowhere near meeting the 17 SDGs at the halfway point, which is not only a crisis for people and planet, but also for our economies and global financial system. The SDGs are our central guiding principles for achieving socially just societies and prosperity within what nature can afford, and achieving them has to be at the core of policy and decision-making.

“As accounting professionals working across all areas of the economy, we know first-hand the costs of inaction to the companies and organisations we lead and advise, so it’s crucial the government takes steps to get us back on track, particularly when businesses will have already been planning for the transition to net zero.

“On Monday, together with 11 UK-based professional bodies, we wrote to the Prime Minister to call for the UK to show bold leadership and further strengthen policy measures, not backtrack, to help accelerate private investment towards a net zero, nature positive, socially just transition. Today’s announcement is a regrettable step in the wrong direction.”

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