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Briefing on the Government’s newly-released Net Zero Strategy

By October 22, 2021No Comments

The Government has published its net zero strategy as part of its obligation to report to Parliament under the Climate Change Act 2008. This important paper sets out the vision for a decarbonised economy by 2050 two weeks ahead of the COP26 summit in Scotland.

According to the document, if we fail to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, “the floods and fires we have seen around the world this year will get more frequent and fiercer, crops will be more likely to fail, and sea levels will rise driving mass migration as millions are forced from their homes”.

In 2019, the UK became the first major economy to legislate a binding target to reach net zero emissions by 2050. At the Global Investment Summit in October 2021, the Prime Minister announced a package of 18 deals worth £9.7 billion that will support green growth and create an estimated 30,000 UK jobs.

The strategy follows guidance set out by the Climate Change Committee and is a 368-page document. Areas such as power, fuel supply, hydrogen, heat, transport, waste and natural resources are topics covered in the policies. The strategy sets out that by 2035, the UK may be powered entirely by clean electricity, subject to a security of supply.

There is a new £120 million future nuclear enabling fund, and a promise of 40GW of offshore wind by 1030, with more onshore, solar and other renewables. There is to be a creation of an industrial decarbonisation and hydrogen revenue support scheme. A key ambition from the section on heat and buildings is that no new gas boilers are to be sold by after 2035. A new £450 million three-year Boiler Upgrade Scheme will see households offered grants of up to £5,000 for low carbon heating systems so they cost the same as a gas boiler does now.

Consumer choice is to be improved through the introduction of a zero-emission vehicle mandate, and further funding of £620 million for zero emission vehicle grants and EV infrastructure. A further £350 million will be provided to the automotive transformation fund to progress the electrification of UK vehicles and their supply chains. An investment of £3 billion is set for integrated bus networks, with more bus lanes and higher frequency services. £2 billion will help to enable half of journeys in towns and cities to be walked or cycled by 2030.

Environmental, non-carbon farming practices and agricultural innovation will be boosted through the Farming Investment Fund and Farming Innovation Programme to support emission reductions, invest in technologies and infrastructure. Another key policy is to ensure a total spend of more than £750 million in the Nature for Climate Fund by 2025. This relates to peat restoration, woodland creation and management.

Some omissions in the Strategy include road pricing, home insultation, the subject of coal and meat and dairy farming and consumption. A food strategy was published earlier this year however, it recommends that the Government cuts meat consumption by 30% in the next decade.

Ed Miliband, shadow Energy Secretary, has criticised a lack of long-term investment made in the programme. He also stated that “the Chancellor’s fingerprints are all over these documents – and not in a good way”.

Philip Dunne, Environmental Audit Committee Chair, said: “There is every indication that this strategy, with its policies on electric vehicle manufacturing and charging, along with emphasis on carbon capture and storage, will indicate to the market that Net Zero Britain is an investible proposition.”

This strategy sets out how we will make historic transitions to remove carbon from our power, retire the internal combustion engine from our vehicles and start to phase out gas boilers from our homes”, said the Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his forward.

There is much to be developed, and whilst it is easy to criticise the content, or lack of clarity, it has to be welcomed overall. As an Industry sector supporting health and long-term market stability; commitment, investment and achievements towards Net Zero for BIVDA members are critical. We will continue to support members to achieve the targets and lead the way in helping to reach Net Zero.