UK Net Zero Strategy Launched
Opportunely, UK government released its highly anticipated Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener, just a week before the commencement of COP26 (31 October - 12 November 2021)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, summarises the strategy aim as to “lead the world in ending our contribution to climate change, while turning this mission into the greatest opportunity for jobs and prosperity for our country since the industrial revolution.”
The key themes of the strategy centre around building a Green Industrial Revolution in the UK; creating significant job growth whilst ending contribution to climate change by reducing emissions across the economy. Government has made £25 billion of capital investment and claim the strategy will enable up to a further £90 billion of private investment into net zero. Government is focused on making it easier for businesses to decarbonise and all must play their part to make this future vision a reality.
Organisations need to be aware of the pivotal elements in UK economy which the strategy strives to revolutionize, to determine areas in their individual business operations where change must be made to align with achieving net zero.
Summary of key proposals
Firstly, proposals for power state that by 2035, the UK will be reliably powered by clean electricity, so the move to renewables is non-negotiable, and investment of up to £270 billion will be allocated to creating the required infrastructure. It is noted that electricity cannot be fully relied upon for all energy, so making cleaner fuel supply available is also paramount. This will be addressed by increasing production of low carbon fuel alternatives, including hydrogen and biofuels whilst reducing traditional oil and gas supplies. However, government promise that job protection and utilising existing infrastructure will be a priority.
Further support in achieving decarbonisation is to be provided through help to improve resource and energy efficiency, fuelling the process in geographic ‘clusters’ which account for around half of the UK’s industrial emissions and providing access to funding support under the government’s carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) innovation programme.
Building on current mandatory initiatives, Streamlined Energy & Carbon Reporting (SECR) and Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), implemented to improve visibility of carbon reporting and encourage energy efficiency in businesses, the strategy sets out ambitions that by 2035 all new heating appliances in homes and workplaces will be low-carbon technologies. Obligated businesses under the aforementioned legislation will already be considering alternatives to gas and adjustments to reduce reliance on energy for heat. Increasingly, more businesses are addressing these areas proactively within Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) disclosures; taking action now via voluntary measures will benefit businesses in the future for a smooth transition to alternative heating solutions which will be the only option in a little over 20 years’ time.
Transport, in terms of removing all road emissions by 2050, is evidently another heavy focus of the strategy, and businesses with fleets must take particular note of government’s zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) mandate. This will improve accessibility to electric vehicles and deliver on the 2030 pledge to end sales of new petrol/diesel cars. A further key policy in the transport ambitions is the trial of zero emission HGV technologies at scale on UK roads to determine their operational benefits, as well as their infrastructure needs.
You can access the full 368 page Net Zero Strategy document here.