The government has published its net-zero strategy. For those who want to hear from a left-leaning environmentalist, here’s my opinion.
There are some significant announcements in the UK governments net-zero plan. They are committing to decarbonise power by 2035, are banning sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030, are investing heavily in active and low carbon transport and are providing significant grants for heat pumps. There’s some great stuff there but alongside that they are pumping money into carbon capture and storage and are relying heavily on hydrogen as a future fuel source.
In my opinion they are focusing their energies in the wrong places particularly in heat and nature based solutions. They are spending £640m on a new fund for nature, whilst priming the investment funds to pump £40 billion into low carbon technology, which includes carbon capture and storage. Where they are investing £60 million into heat pumps before 2028 they are investing £100 million into hydrogen infrastructure by 2024.
What this signal is the government’s commitment to the fossil fuel industry. They want a mixture of blue/green hydrogen in the natural gas grid whilst downscaling the massive heat pump opportunity. They want to initiate carbon capture and storage instead of enthusing industry to decarbonise. And the balance of expenditure on nature vrs carbon capture and storage points to the use of more energy to decarbonise the economy rather than using nature to decarbonise without energy.
They could have used the opportunity to show how Britain was willing to use vertical farming to reduce land use whilst restoring nature at scale to balance the carbon emissions of our country. They should force all new properties to install renewable heating systems rather than pandering to the oil/gas industry to fund hydrogen technology. They could be implementing a tax of flights (and let’s acknowledge there’s no taxation on plane fuel) instead of projecting low carbon flights.
I have to applaud their ambition on renewable energy and active transport. But much of what they’ve been saying is still below the ambitions of others. They should be banning sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2025 like more forward looking European countries. They should force all new buildings to have heat pumps installed by 2025 rather than 2035 (we are massively behind the curve in this area in comparison to other countries).
Our country’s ambitions on decarbonisation is being pitched into the long grass with this new strategy but Boris is trying. I just think he’s too much in the pocket of the industry of the 1990s rather than the industry of the future. It’s a signal that our government is too controlled by money for elections, rather than a proper principled strategy that will preserve our children’s futures.
Key Policies of UK Net Zero Strategy
- By 2035 the UK will be powered entirely by clean electricity, subject to security of supply.
- Secure a final investment decision on a large-scale nuclear plant by the end of this Parliament, and launch a new £120 million Future Nuclear Enabling Fund, retaining options for future nuclear technologies, including Small Modular Reactors, with a number of potential sites including Wylfa in North Wales.
- 40GW of offshore wind by 2030, with more onshore, solar, and other renewables – with a new approach to onshore and offshore electricity networks to incorporate new low carbon generation and demand in the most efficient manner that takes account of the needs of local communities like those in East Anglia.
- Moving towards 1GW of floating offshore wind by 2030 to put us at the forefront of this new technology that can utilise our North and Celtic Seas – backed by £380 million overall funding for our world-leading offshore wind sector.
- Deployment of new flexibility measures including storage to help smooth out future price spikes.
Fuel supply and hydrogen
- We have set up the Industrial Decarbonisation and Hydrogen Revenue Support (IDHRS) scheme to fund our new hydrogen and industrial carbon capture business models. We will be providing up to £140 million to establish the scheme, including up to £100 million to award contracts of up to 250MW of electrolytic hydrogen production capacity in 2023 with further allocation in 2024.
- Introducing a new climate compatibility checkpoint for future licensing on the UK Continental Shelf and regulating the oil and gas sector in a way that minimises greenhouse gases through the revised Oil and Gas Authority strategy.
- Following the Phase 1 of the Cluster Sequencing process, the Hynet and East Coast Clusters, will act as economic hubs for green jobs in line with our ambition to capture 20-30 MtCO2 per year by 2030. This puts Teesside and the Humber, Merseyside and North Wales, along with the North East of Scotland as a reserve cluster, among the potential early SuperPlaces which will be transformed over the next decade.
- Future-proofing industrial sectors, and the communities they employ through the £315 million Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (IETF), (£289 million for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, £26 million for Scotland).
- Incentivise cost-effective abatement in industry at the pace and scale required to deliver net zero, through the UK ETS by consulting on a net zero consistent UK ETS cap (in partnership with the Devolved Administrations).
Heat and Buildings
- An ambition that by 2035, no new gas boilers will be sold.
- 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 now.
- A new £60 million Heat Pump Ready programme that will provide funding for pioneering heat pump technologies and will support the government’s target of 600,000 installations a year by 2028.
- Delivering cheaper electricity by rebalancing of policy costs from electricity bills to gas bills this decade.
- Further funding for the Social Housing Decarbonisation Scheme and Home Upgrade Grants, investing £1.75 billion. Additional funding of £1.425 billion for Public Sector Decarbonisation, with the aim of reducing emissions from public sector buildings by 75% by 2037.
- Launching a Hydrogen Village trial to inform a decision on the role of hydrogen in the heating system by 2026.
- A zero emission vehicle mandate to improve consumer choice and ensure we maximise the economic benefit from this transition by giving a clear signal to investors. This will deliver on our 2030 commitment to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, and 2035 commitment that all cars must be fully zero emissions capable.
- Further funding of £620 million for zero emission vehicle grants and EV Infrastructure, including further funding for local EV Infrastructure, with a focus on local on street residential charging.
- Allocating a further £350 million of our up to £1 billion Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) to support the electrification of UK vehicles and their supply chains.
- Building on the success of our £20 million zero emission road freight trials, we will expand these to trial three zero emission HGV technologies at scale on UK roads to determine their operational benefits, as well as their infrastructure needs.
- £2 billion investment which will help enable half of journeys in towns and cities to be cycled or walked by 2030. • £3 billion to create integrated bus networks, more frequent services and bus lanes to speed journeys. • Transformation of local transport systems, with 4,000 new zero emission buses and the infrastructure to support them, and a net zero rail network by 2050, with the ambition to remove all diesel-only trains by 2040.
- Building on the success of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition, we will be extending this to a multi-year programme, delivering real-world demonstrations and technology trials of clean maritime vessels and infrastructure to decarbonise the maritime sector. This is part of our commitment to a UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions.
- Significant investment in rail electrification and city rapid transit systems.
- Aim to become a world-leader in zero emission flight and kick-starting the commercialisation of the UK sustainable aviation fuel so people can fly, and connect without guilt. Our ambition is to enable delivery of 10% SAF by 2030 and will be supporting UK industry with £180 million funding for the development of SAF plants.
Natural Resources, waste and flourinated gases
- Supporting low-carbon farming and agricultural innovation through the Farming Investment Fund and the Farming Innovation Programme to invest in equipment, technology, and infrastructure to improve profitability, benefit the environment and support emissions reductions.
- We will boost the existing £640 million Nature for Climate Fund with a further £124 million of new money, ensuring total spend of more than £750 million by 2025 on peat restoration, woodland creation and management – above and beyond what was promised in the manifesto. This will enable more opportunities for farmers and landowners to support Net Zero through land use change.
- Restoring approximately 280,000 hectares of peat in England by 2050 and trebling woodland creation rates in England, contributing to the UK’s overall target of increasing planting rates to 30,000 hectares per year by the end of the Parliament.
- £75 million on net zero related R&D across Natural Resources, Waste & F-gases, to inform our pathway to 2037.
- To support our commitment to explore options for the near elimination of biodegradable municipal waste to landfill from 2028, we are bringing forward £295 million of capital funding which will allow local authorities in England to prepare to implement free separate food waste collections for all households from 2025.
Greenhouse Gas Removal
- Delivering £100 million of investment in GGR innovation could enable further deployment of GGRs, which in turn will leverage private investment and demand for transferrable engineering expertise from the UK’s oil and gas sector.
- Explore options for regulatory oversight to provide robust monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of GGRs, following the recommendations of the BEIS-led MRV Task & Finish Group involving experts from industry and academia.
Supporting the transition with cross cutting action
- Deliver at least £1.5 billion of funding to support net zero innovation projects.
- Use the UK Infrastructure Bank (UKIB) to crowd in private finance, support more than £40 billion of investment, and pull through low carbon technologies and sectors to maturity and scale.
- Introduce a new Sustainability Disclosures Regime, including mandatory climate related financial disclosures and a UK green taxonomy.
- Reform the skills system so that training providers, employers and learners are incentivised and equipped to play their part in delivering the transition to net zero.
- Publish an annual progress update against a set of key indicators for achieving our climate goals.