In the best historical tradition, the sun once again returned for our first UKAS House of Lords reception in three years. Held in the Gothic splendour of the Cholmondeley Room and Terrace, this lunchtime event is one of the highlights in the UKAS calendar, giving invitees a chance to hear from our Chair, Lord Lindsay, guest speakers and an opportunity to meet colleagues from UKAS, across govt, and beyond. UKAS has always had an uncanny knack of choosing a warm and sunny day for our event and even after a hiatus of 3 years we haven’t lost our touch. This year’s event on 7 June welcomed more than 130 officials from across Government, the wider public sector and beyond; evidence of the interest and support for the continuing role of standards and accreditation in regulatory and wider policy-making.
In keeping with the theme for this year’s World Accreditation Day Sustainability in Economic Growth and the Environment we chose to focus on the role of accreditation in helping to meet the net zero challenge. Standards, conformity assessment and accreditation together are of course integral to tackling the climate emergency so we were delighted that the British Standards Institution (BSI) and the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) partnered with us for this event.
This year we were particularly lucky to have two excellent guest speakers.
Following the traditional warm welcome from the UKAS Chair Lord Lindsay, BEIS Minister, Paul Scully MP, our UKAS champion within government gave an enthusiastic endorsement of UKAS, our role as the national accreditation body and the importance of accreditation in the drive for net zero. He also set out how UKAS supports wider government priorities, including promoting international trade and providing confidence in the application of new technologies, such as 4IR.
He ended with a challenge to the audience, asking them to think about what they can do both individually and collectively to surpass the 2050 net zero targets.
We were also honoured to welcome Baroness Brown of Cambridge DBE to give our keynote address. Baroness Brown’s net zero credentials are well established through her work with the Climate Change Committee and her roles as both Chair of the Carbon Trust in addition to being the UK’s Low Carbon Business Ambassador. She outlined the challenges of reaching the 2050 net zero target, as set out in the 2020 Committee on Climate Change report, The UK’s path to Net Zero.
These include the requirement to expand low-carbon energy supplies, the development and take up of new low carbon solutions and the necessity of offsetting emissions. She acknowledged the role UKAS is already playing in all these areas and the importance of UKAS going forward, particularly as the implementation and adoption of environmental schemes will need to expand rapidly over the next few years if the 2050 target is going to be reached. UKAS can provide the confidence and assurance that net zero claims by companies whether about carbon capture or offsetting emissions are credible. She concluded that data reliability is at the core of trust and confidence and this is where UKAS comes in.
Thanking Paul Scully and Baroness Brown for their insights into the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead, Lord Lindsay brought the speeches to a close by reminding attendees that policy makers, regulators, industry and individuals all have an important role to play in helping to reach net zero targets.