Leading defence firms unite behind ESG Charter

Posted on 25 Jan 2024 by The Manufacturer

Defence firms working across the UK have signed up to a new ESG Charter highlighting their commitment to cutting carbon emissions, building a more diverse and dynamic workforce and keeping Britain safe.

The UK Defence ESG Charter, launched today, was spearheaded by ADS, the leading trade body for Britain’s defence, aerospace and security industries and has been signed by some of the biggest names in British industry.

Kevin Craven, CEO of ADS, described the Charter as the “foundation for a better sector” and encouraged more firms to sign up to its aims.

He said: “The UK is facing an increasingly complex threat landscape: war in Europe, rising cyber-attacks and the devastation of climate change all pose risks to our national security and economic prosperity.

“We must work together to strengthen our defences, support our armed forces, cut carbon emissions, build a more diverse workforce and deliver sustained growth to every nation and region in the UK.

“Sustainability is not the responsibility of a single organisation, it is an effort that requires collective action. This ESG Charter outlines our firm commitment to building a stronger, fairer and more prosperous Britain.

“It is the foundation for a better sector. We want to enhance our sustainability and secure the long-term access to financial services that are vital for Britain’s safety and prosperity.”

The ESG Charter outlines the industry’s commitment to cutting carbon emissions to help Britain reach its net zero target by 2050 and develop innovative new technologies for the armed forces.

It also pledges to cut Britain’s skills gap by forging more partnerships with colleges, universities and local communities to encourage more people to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

The Charter also outlines a commitment to improve diversity, equality and inclusion across all levels.

The value of the sector to keeping Britain’s national infrastructure safe, supporting the armed forces and shoring up the nation’s defences against cyber-attacks are also highlighted in the document.

It commits to “improve and sustain a strict, efficient and comprehensive export control system” and play a pivotal role in Britain’s prosperity and protection.

The defence sector delivers a £9.8bn boost to the British economy annually and employs more than 147,500 people. Seventy per cent of defence jobs are outside London and the industry supports 6,900 apprenticeships.

The Charter’s inaugural signatories are ADS, Airbus, Babcock, BAE Systems, Leonardo, MBDA, QinetiQ, and Thales.

Minister for Defence Procurement, James Cartlidge MP said: “The invasion of Ukraine has highlighted in the starkest possible way the fragility of the most important social value – peace.

“It’s more important than ever we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners to ensure they can continue protecting our way of life, alongside becoming more sustainable, reducing skills gaps and promoting a diverse workforce.

“I urge more companies to sign up to the new UK Defence ESG Charter, which champions the vital role the sector plays in Britain’s security and prosperity.”

Ben Bridge, Airbus Defence and Space UK Chair: “Our national security has never been so important in this increasingly volatile geopolitical world. The Defence Industry plays a pivotal role in providing that security and we must balance the very important elements that come with responsible ESG investment and the need to ensure a solid and thriving defence sector. Now is the time to invest more, not less, in our sovereign capabilities.”

Clive Higgins, Chair and CEO, Leonardo UK: “The Defence & Security sector has a vital role to play in ESG. Our national security underpins our freedom as a society and lays the foundations for economic, social and environmental progress. As a major investor in UK research and technology, our industry will be able to provide great life opportunities for the nation’s next generation of scientists and engineers, while embracing the tools of the digital age as a route towards a more secure and sustainable future.”

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