Net-Zero Transition News

Navigating climate policy uncertainty in the year of the election

Ben Gascoyne, Associate Director, Net-Zero Transition
Ben Gascoyne, Associate Director, Net-Zero Transition



2024 is the biggest election year in history. Over half the world’s population will be voting at various levels, including in the United States, India, Indonesia, the European Union, and here in the UK.

For businesses looking at the future of climate, infrastructure, transport and sustainability policy, and the world’s progress toward net zero, that means real uncertainty. So there’s an essential role for businesses in highly regulated sectors such as healthcare, energy and transport to have up to date, high quality communications and public affairs campaigns to mitigate the risks and seize the opportunities that this politically turbulent year will bring. Madano’s expert team of former political advisers, senior civil servants, and technical and sector experts is gearing up for a busy year.

In the UK, Keir Starmer’s Labour Party hopes to capitalise on a significant polling lead entering the year to retake power from the Conservatives, ending 14 years of opposition. At the core of Labour’s electoral offer is its commitment to an Inflation Reduction Act-inspired Green Industrial Strategy, and a new national renewables fund, GB Energy. Climate and net zero, particularly regulatory policy and future spending plans, are going to be a fixture of campaigning divisions between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer.

No matter the outcome in the UK, though, Starmer’s ability to deliver this agenda will be impacted by events elsewhere.

In June, a European Parliament that has set a bold post-pandemic course on climate and sustainability regulation and spending is up for a bloc-wide ballot. In several countries, ‘establishment’ parties are under significant pressure from resurgent populist parties, with the potential to reshape policy in areas like energy and infrastructure spending, and multinational issues like emissions. Given the UK remains broadly in sync with the EU across multiple net zero and energy policy areas, like the planned Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, it could quickly impact the next government’s legislative agenda.

In November, current polling suggests Trump will be extremely competitive against Joe Biden for the United States presidency, should he overcome a range of legal challenges. A Trump Administration will quickly reshape the global political agenda, from reviewing the climate focus of the Inflation Reduction Act, and international tariffs and protectionist measures, to changing the game for the transport, cleantech and energy sectors. In its engagement with businesses and other governments, Trump has promised a very different approach, and would almost certainly require a rapid rethink of the UK’s position.

This is where effective communication, including public affairs and government relations, will make the difference in 2024. That means building strong relationships across the UK’s major political parties, but also with senior, permanent officials across government, and technical and scientific advisors, who will remain consistent regardless of electoral outcomes, so you can identify issues quickly, and respond effectively to a changing situation collaboratively.

It also means telling a consistently strong story about the business, ensuring your net zero priorities and the value they bring in the real-world is known and stands out. In a busy electoral year, providing time-pressed politicians and their advisors clear, concise and savvy briefings that inform and elevate, rather than confusing or adding to the pile.

While the world leaders attending COP29 in Azerbaijan in late November 2024 are hard to predict, focusing on political relationships and communication will help any business to be ready for anything. Madano’s expert team stands ready to help.

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