As the host of the fast-approaching COP26 climate conference, the UK government needed to demonstrate real leadership and commitment to tackling climate change. The question is, did Boris Johnson and Kwasi Kwarteng step up to the proverbial plate with the launch of the UK’s Net Zero Strategy?
The Strategy integrates and builds on the 10 Point Plan, the energy white paper and a number of other recently published strategies, outlining what is needed to deliver a net zero future.
The Climate Change Act, as amended in 2019, committed the UK to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The original act, passed in 2008, committed the UK to an 80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, compared to 1990 levels. The Act broke the decarbonisation challenge into bitesize chunks – five-year long carbon budgets. The UK has hit all of its carbon budgets to date, notably halving its greenhouse gas emissions since 1990. The Net Zero Strategy sets out clear policies and proposals for keeping the UK on track for the coming carbon budgets.
The headline target is to cut emissions by at least 68% by 2030 on 1990 levels and to reach net zero by 2050. The strategy sets out a roadmap to reducing emissions from each sector of the economy, while hoovering up any remaining emissions with greenhouse gas removals – whether nature-based (e.g. reforestation) or technological (e.g. carbon capture). Many of the policies in the strategy will be phased in over the next decade or longer.
The plan has four guiding principles:
- Consumer choice: no forced measures;
- The biggest polluters pay the most;
- The most vulnerable are protected;
- Businesses are supported to deliver deep cost reductions in low carbon tech.
The strategy builds on steps to green the economy, such as the ending of sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, boosting investment (12 billion of domestic green investment since March 2020, and a doubling of the UK’s International Climate Finance commitment to £11.6 billion between 2021-2025), and encouraging private investment into net zero.
Key policies in the strategy include:
- By 2035 the UK will be powered entirely by clean electricity;
- By 2035, no new gas boilers will be sold;
- Further funding of £620 million for zero emission vehicle grants and EV Infrastructure;
- Transformation of local transport systems, with 4,000 net zero emission buses and the infrastructure to support them, and a net zero rail network by 2050;
- Delivery of at least £1.5 billion of funding to support net zero innovation projects;
- Practical support to help businesses transition to green and clean production processes.
Ending the UK’s domestic contribution to man-made climate change by 2050 is a noble and needed task. If we fail to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the floods, fires and droughts we have seen around the world this year will only intensify, threatening the stability of civilisation itself.
Removing dirty fossil fuels will require the transformation of every sector of the global economy. It means no longer burning fossil fuels for power or heating; new ways of making concrete, cement, steel; and the end of the internal combustion engine. Hopefully, it also means more jobs, cleaner air, and more robust communities.
The message is clear. We have to act. That is why Alfa Energy Group is committed to supporting its clients, from large corporates to non-profit organisations, in developing and implementing a net zero strategy.
Gianluigi Corbani, Head of Sustainability and Asset Management, Alfa Energy Group commented:
“As always the devil is in the detail. However, all initial readings and indications of the Net Zero Strategy document point to a low investment, light-touch regulatory approach by the Government.
All this will mean is that, once again, UK businesses will be expected to take the lead in the UK net zero effort. Whether by helping households to decarbonise or by directly investing into their own activities to reach individual net zero targets, it is now clearer than ever that the UK will not reach net zero if industry and businesses do not step up and take the initiative.
From today, we look forward to accelerating our efforts in conjunction with clients and partners to achieve the ultimate goal of a sustainable planet for the future generations.”
To find out more about our net zero and wider sustainability solutions, visit: https://alfaenergygroup.com/uk/services/sustainability-consulting/
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