Celebrating Earth Day through the power of regulatory collaboration

Since 1970, Earth Day has been celebrated on 22 April, aiming to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. More than ever before, ensuring we live in an environmentally sustainable way is an existential challenge we all need to get behind. And whilst industry is pivoting to make sustainability one of its fundamental goals, regulators are also proactively playing their part in enabling the delivery of net zero and ensuring that infrastructure is resilient to the effects brought by the changing climate.

Individually, regulators work with the sectors and with investors to make sure interests are balanced and that we can deliver a just transition that benefits consumers, the environment and the economy. For example, the utility regulator plays a key role in decarbonising the energy sector, the financial regulators are looking at the consistency and validity of green reporting and the transport regulators focus on those hard to decarbonise areas, such as aviation, as well as the broader role of the transport network in supporting the net zero transition. Of note, is also the partnership between Ofwat, the Environment Agency and the Drinking Water Inspectorate, which through the Regulators’ Alliance for Progressing Infrastructure Development, (RAPID), are exploring commissioning – sustainably – new reservoirs, as water stress increases.

But the force of the regulators’ impact is magnified through collaboration. And this is where the UK Regulators’ Network comes in, supporting collaboration on climate change across our members.

The UKRN Climate Change Network brings together member representatives that have a common interest in this topic to facilitate knowledge exchange, information sharing and frank discussions on the opportunities and challenges that regulators face. The network also takes forward projects in its own right, such as exploring the feasibility and utility to have common principles to monitor and report the progress of our regulated industry in delivering net zero. This can improve our understanding of what net zero means for our respective regulated sectors and how we can best support them to enable delivery.

There are also other ways in which the UKRN takes forward its work on climate change. First, we provide expertise and support to the Net Zero Regulators-Government Forum, which was set up in response to one of the recommendations from the Independent Review of Net Zero. The Forum brings together the members of the UKRN Climate Change Network with other regulators that have a role in the transition, to provide a mechanism through which regulators and government can work together to identify and align the actions and decisions needed to deliver net zero by 2050.

Second, the UKRN organises regular events to promote the value of collaboration in enabling a sustainable future for the health of people and the planet, by partnering with other organisation and leading engagement in this space.

Collectively, regulators, through the UKRN Climate Change Network, try to capitalise on the principle that collaboration brings better results, makes better policy, ensures diversity of thinking. Working in a cross-sectoral manner means we see and consider common risks and opportunities and it helps us build a panoramic view of the sustainability landscape, to highlight the touchpoints, and be aware of the unintended consequences, as we attempt to map out the cross-sectoral transition to net zero.