Government unveils Net Zero Strategy

Published by Scott Challinor on October 20th 2021, 3:03pm

The UK government has this week revealed its Net Zero Strategy, setting out how ministers plan for the nation to hit its net zero carbon emissions goal by 2050.

The plan follows up on the Prime Minister’s ambitions for a Green Industrial Revolution and outlines how the government will generate 440,000 well-paid jobs and generate £90 billion of private investment by 2030 to help the country transition toward green energy and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

The announcement comes as the UK prepares to host the UN COP26 summit next week, where Boris Johnson will urge other leading economies to set out their own decarbonisation plans.

The government has said that as part of the strategy, it will invest a further £350 million of its commitment of up to £1 billion to help UK vehicles transition from petrol to electric. £620 million will go toward targeted electric vehicle grants and infrastructure, including local charging station in residential areas, and plans are in motion for thousands more zero emission cars and vans to enter circulation through a new zero emission vehicle mandate.

A further £500 million will go into research and innovation projects to develop new green technologies, taking total investment into net zero research to £1.5 billion. £3.9 billion of new funding is to be put towards decarbonising heat and existing buildings, including the £450 million Boiler Upgrade Scheme to help make buildings greener. £124 million is being set aside for the Nature for Climate Fund to create new woodland spaces in England, and £120 million is going into the Future Nuclear Enabling Fund to develop new nuclear energy projects.

Ministers have also said that work is underway to begin commercialising sustainable aviation fuel, sourced from sustainable materials including household waste, flue gases, carbon captured from the atmosphere, and excess electricity. The government says that these energy sources produce 70 per cent less emissions than traditional jet fuel on a lifecycle basis.

Westminster is aiming to enable 10 per cent of sustainable aviation fuel delivery by 2030, with £180 million investment going into the development of sustainable aviation fuel plants. A £140 million Industrial and Hydrogen Revenue Support scheme to accelerate industrial carbon capture and hydrogen is also to be launched.

The government has said that green industries will provide opportunities in Britain’s industrial heartlands throughout the decade and breathe new life into North Sea industries, with two key carbon capture clusters being based in northwest England and Teesside and the Humber.

Since Johnson announced his Ten Point Plan, the policies and spending brought forward in this week’s strategy means that £26 billion of government capital investment has already gone into the Green Industrial Revolution.

Meanwhile, over £5.8 billion of foreign investment has been sourced to go into green projects since the Ten Point Plan, and 56,000 jobs in green sector have been generated.

Although gas prices are on the increase, the government says that the strategy should bring energy bills down by 2024 thanks to energy efficiency measures and the cost of renewable energies reducing.

The Prime Minister commented: “The UK’s path to ending our contribution to climate change will be paved with well-paid jobs, billions in investment and thriving green industries – powering our green industrial revolution across the country.

“By moving first and taking bold action, we will build a defining competitive edge in electric vehicles, offshore wind, carbon capture technology and more, whilst supporting people and businesses along the way.

“With the major climate summit COP26 just around the corner, our strategy sets the example for other countries to build back greener too as we lead the charge towards global net zero.”

Business and Energy Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, added: “There is a global race to develop new green technology, kick-start new industries and attract private investment. The countries that capture the benefits of this global green industrial revolution will enjoy unrivalled growth and prosperity for decades to come – and it’s our job to ensure the UK is fighting fit.

“Today’s plan will not only unlock billions of pounds of investment to boost the UK’s competitive advantage in green technologies, but will create thousands of jobs in new, future-proof industries – clearly demonstrating that going green and economic growth go hand in hand.”

The government has also published the Treasury’s Net Zero Review alongside the strategy, which explores key issues likely to arise as the UK bids to decarbonise its industries, raising awareness of the caveats when decarbonisation policy is being drawn up.

To date, the UK has cut its carbon emissions more swiftly than any other nation in the G7, and COP President-Designate, Alok Sharma, has urged other leading nations to show similar ambition.

He said: "The UK continues to show climate leadership as we publish our roadmap to net zero by 2050. It shows the wealth of opportunities, including thousands of new skilled jobs, that a transition to a green economy can herald.

"With COP26 opening in less than two weeks, leaders stepping up with more commitments has never been more urgent. I’m calling on countries across the world, particularly the G20, to commit to net zero by mid-century, ambitious 2030 emissions reduction targets and to set out credible implementation plans so we can limit global warming to well below 2C and keep the goal of 1.5 degrees within reach."

Photo by Thomas Richter on Unsplash

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Scott Challinor
Business Editor
October 20th 2021, 3:03pm

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