Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, has announced government backing for a Tech Zero Taskforce at the CogX conference being held in London this week.
“I am proud to announce the Tech Zero Taskforce to speed up the UK’s race to net zero,” he told in-person and online attendees. “I hope this marks a turning point in our fight against climate change – and it’s right that the tech industry leads the charge.”
The creation of the taskforce was originally announced by tech industry association TechNation in March 2021, chaired by Hayden Wood, co-founder and CEO of UK energy company Bulb, alongside the government’s Council for Sustainable Business and MP Andrew Griffith.
A spokesperson for the Taskforce said: “We have formally announced the specific commitments and net-zero actions that companies would be required to make if they sign up to the group. We’ve launched the website with a toolkit and resources, and we’ve opened it up for other businesses to sign up to, with a target to have 1,000 businesses signed up by COP26.”
In a statement, Dowden said: “The digital drive towards net zero is not only good for the planet, it also makes good business sense. I urge firms to play their part and sign up to the Tech Zero Taskforce and its ambitious targets as we look forward to COP26.
“As a government, we are unashamedly pro-tech, and the industry has our full support as it brings its innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity to tackle one of the greatest challenges of our time.”
Tech Zero is led by Wood and technology industry body Tech Nation, and includes British technology firms Allplants, Babylon, Citymapper, Faculty, GoCardless, Habito, Hopin, Moneysupermarket Group, Olio, Onfido, Revolut, Starling Bank, What3words and Wise.
Companies that join Tech Zero commit to measure all of their emissions and set a net-zero target by the end of 2021. They will also appoint a member of their executive team to be responsible and accountable for their net-zero target, reporting progress to their board and on their website every year.
Companies Monzo, OakNorth and Vodafone joined Tech Zero as part of the most recent announcement.
Oliver Dowden, culture secretary
Industry bodies London & Partners and Level39, a tech community, have joined Tech Zero alongside Tech Nation, on the company association side of the venture.
The taskforce is building a directory of products and technology that consumers can use to make greener choices, from avoiding food waste to reducing their carbon footprint. It has produced a Tech Zero toolkit to demystify climate jargon and make it easier for tech companies of all sizes to set a net-zero plan.
“Everyone’s been grappling with the challenge of net zero – the Tech Zero Taskforce means we can work together to make progress faster,” said Hayden Wood. “As some of the fastest-growing companies in the UK, we want to help at least 1,000 companies set rigorous climate action plans, and help our 100 million customers make greener choices.”
Gerard Grech, chief executive of Tech Nation, added: “Decarbonising our economies to net zero will undoubtedly involve mindset change, habit change and technologies, some not yet invented, to scale.”