British businesses call on Lord Goldsmith to support a legally binding tree target

17 March 2021

  • The UK was the first major economy to pass net zero emissions in law, yet the last time the UK planted its recommended 30,000 hectares of trees in one year to reach net zero was 1989.
  • Over 5,000 people have signed a petition calling on the Government to get serious about tree planting.
  • A coalition of businesses and organisations are asking the UK Government to enshrine a tree planting target in law.

London, March 2021: A coalition of 16 British businesses and organisations have sent a letter to Environment Minister Lord Goldsmith asking DEFRA to take prioritise tree planting as part of its renewed efforts to protect and enhance the environment.

The Government has pledged to plant 30,000 hectares of trees a year in the UK by 2025, as part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ten-point plan for addressing climate change. However, this commitment was already promised in the Conservative Manifesto.

Without supporting this commitment through binding legislation, the group of companies are concerned that the UK’s opportunity to demonstrate a world leading commitment to afforestation and broader nature-based solutions ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) will fall short.

In the letter the companies call on Lord Goldsmith to enshrine tree planting in UK laws, highlighting the publication of the Environmental Bill and England Tree Strategy present an opportunity to do this.

Kate Weinberg, Director of Sustainability, OVO said:

“We’re delighted so many others have signed the letter calling for the UK Government to enshrine a tree planting target in law. The importance of planting trees has never been higher on both the political and social agenda. A legally binding target is a concrete step to tackle the climate crisis that will catalyse further action and recognise the ecological crisis we are in too.”

Elliot Coad, CEO and Co-Founder, Ecologi said:

“With just 13% of the UK being forested compared to an EU average of 38%, it is critical that the yearly 30,000 hectare tree-planting target becomes legally binding. At Ecologi, we are working with multiple local charities and NGOs to aid local reforestation in the UK and this legal commitment is a key requirement needed to stimulate the much needed growth of this sector. Increasing the carbon removal capacity of the UK through nature based solutions like reforestation is imperative for building the lungs of the country to help achieve the UK’s net-zero targets.’

Darren York, CEO, The Conservation Volunteers said:

The world faces a climate and ecological emergency and there is just no way that we can tackle climate effectively without focussing on nature. Tree planting and broader nature-based solutions, with communities at their heart, will deliver for climate, nature and people”.

Nick Torday, co-founder and CEO, Bower Collective said:

Bower Collective has partnered with OVO Energy as we share a passionate mission to create a more sustainable world. We offer our full support to their pledge for a legally binding tree planting target for the UK. Carbon capture is so important and encouraging words now need to be backed by clear, committed policy."


Notes to Editors:

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About the petition: Enshrine tree planting target in law

The UK is hosting the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference and has already enshrined a net zero carbon emissions target in law. Now is the time for the Government to set a legally-binding tree planting target, in line with the Climate Change Committee's recommendation.

Link to the petition can be found here.

Full list of signatories:

  1. Bower Collective
  2. Confor
  3. Ecologi
  4. Forest Carbon
  5. Forum for the Future
  6. Futerra
  7. GIVEN
  8. greensphere
  10. LEON
  11. Nice and Serious
  12. OVO Energy
  13. Sainsbury’s
  14. The Conservation Volunteers
  15. The Woodland Trust
  16. Zero Carbon Commission

Link to the letter can be found here.

About OVO Energy:

OVO Energy was founded in 2009 and redesigned the energy experience to be fair, effortless, green and simple for all customers. The company has spent the last decade investing in the market leading technology, customer service operations and digital products to help members cut their carbon emissions. OVO is on a mission through its sustainability strategy Plan Zero to tackle the most important issue of our time; the climate crisis, by bringing our customers with us on the journey towards zero carbon living. OVO Energy has committed to being a net zero carbon business and achieve bold science-based carbon reduction targets by 2030, while helping members halve their carbon footprint at the same time.