Net Zero Review sets out range of climate actions

Chris Skidmore has published his Net Zero Review which sets out 129 recommendations and calls for accelerated climate action from Government.

Mission Zero, the MP’s Net Zero Review, makes recommendations which cover a range of areas including the greater role that business can be supported to play, making better use of infrastructure and delivering more energy efficient homes. Every one is designed to maximise economic investment, opportunities and jobs – all while working towards achieving legally binding targets to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The review sets out the ‘historic opportunity’ offered by net zero but says more should be done to reap the economic benefits that it presents.

Mr Skidmore has highlighted how the government’s Net Zero Strategy offers the right direction, and the right policies to do so.

Key recommendations across automotive, fleet and transport include: 

·        Government should continue to work with industry to set out a clear programme by 2024 to accelerate decarbonisation of the wider freight sector through modal shift and deployment of new technologies, building on the Future of Freight Plan  

·        Government to reduce delays to anticipated reforms by bringing forward the delayed Future of Transport Bill this Parliament 

·        Government to swiftly deliver the ZEV mandate, to apply from 2024, while maintaining regulations and funding to support the uptake of electric and other zero emission vehicles, and continuing to drive emission reductions from internal combustion engines  

·        By Autumn 2023 HM Treasury should review how policy incentivises investment in decarbonisation, including via the tax system and capital allowances 

·        Government to equalise VAT on public and private electric vehicle charging in 2024. 

Chair of the Net Zero Review, Chris Skidmore MP, said: ”We should be proud of the lead the UK has taken in tackling climate change, having exceeded expectations so far in our race to net zero emissions by 2050. As essential as that is environmentally, it also puts us at an economic advantage globally.

”We lead in areas including clean technologies, science, manufacturing and green finance – areas that, if managed right, can lead to new jobs and strong economic growth.

”In developing this report, we have engaged with communities, economists and climate experts from across the country through more than 50 roundtables and 1800 submissions – all of which have led to the Mission Zero findings. My recommendations are designed to make the most of this historic opportunity, covering the length and breadth of our economy, so that people in every part of the country can reap the benefits of this both in their communities, and in their pockets.”

Business and Energy Secretary Grant Shapps said: ”With a wealth of talent and expertise, and a track record to be proud of, the UK is well placed to ensure that tackling climate change also brings new jobs and investment for businesses and communities.

”I am grateful to Chris Skidmore – the man who signed our climate commitments into law – for his detailed report today, which offers a range of ideas and innovations for us to consider as we work to grasp the opportunities from green growth.”

Chris Skidmore’s proposals include:

  • Backing business – these include reviewing incentives for investment in decarbonisation, including via the tax system, and launching a Help to Grow Green campaign offering information and advice to small businesses so they can plan ahead
  • Backing local action – these include reforming the planning system to put net zero at its heart nationally and locally, and backing at least one Trailblazer Net Zero City, local authority and community that can work towards reaching net zero by 2030
  • Delivering energy efficient homes – including legislating for the Future Homes Standard so that no new homes will be built with a gas boiler from 2025, adopting a 10-year mission to make heat pumps a widespread technology in the UK
  • Using infrastructure to unlock net zero – including developing a cross-sectoral infrastructure strategy by 2025 to support the building and adaptation for new green energy sources such as hydrogen to support the green economy

Official statistics show there are already around 400,000 jobs in low carbon businesses and their supply chains across the UK, with turnover estimated at £41.2 billion in 2020. Both the British Energy Security Strategy and Net Zero Strategy aim to leverage an additional and unprecedented £100 billion of private investment, while supporting an additional 480,000 British jobs by 2030.

The main recommendations to the government in the Review are as follows:

1) Using infrastructure to unlock net zero

  • Accelerating the implementation of the British Energy Security Strategy to update the mandate of Ofgem, creating the Future System Operator and accelerating the connection of cheaper renewables such as solar and onshore wind
  • Developing a cross-sectoral infrastructure strategy by 2025 supporting the building and adaptation of infrastructure for electricity, hydrogen, other liquid and gaseous fuels and CO2 networks that support the green economy
  • Reforming our approach to planning, so that where locally supported, more solar and onshore wind can be developed more easily, helping communities reap the benefits of cheaper low-carbon electricity

2) Creating sustainable governance structures for net zero

  • Developing an over-arching government financing strategy by the end of 2023
  • Establishing an Office for Net Zero Delivery, responsible for placing net zero delivery at the heart of government thinking

3) Backing businesses to go green

  • Reviewing incentives for investment in decarbonisation, including via the tax system and capital allowances, and protecting British industries from environmental undercutting by progressing plans on carbon leakage measures and providing more detail on the UK’s new Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)
  • Building skills needed for the transition by driving forward the Green Jobs Taskforce recommendations and launching a ‘Help to Grow Green’ campaign, offering information and support to SMEs to plan and invest in the transition

4) Catalysing local action

  • Reforming the planning system at local and national level to place net zero at its heart
  • Back at least one Trailblazer Net Zero City, local authority and community, with the aim for these places to reach net zero by 2030

5) Increasing transparency and engaging people

  • Expanding the government’s public reporting on net zero
  • Ramping up public information through a new engagement plan, a new carbon calculator on the carbon cost of choices, and a standardised approach to ecolabelling on products
  • Developing a Net Zero Charter mark, acknowledging ‘best in class’ among firms for their work in reaching net zero

6) Delivering cleaner, cheaper, greener homes

  • Legislating for the Future Homes Standard, meaning no new homes will be built with a gas boiler from 2025, and for all homes sold to be EPC C by 2033
  • Adopting a 10-year mission to make heat pumps a widespread technology in the UK and legislate for the end of new and replacement gas boilers by 2033 at the latest
  • Reforming EPC ratings to create a clearer, more accessible Net Zero Performance Certificate (NZPC) for households

7) Capitalising on international leadership

  • Conducting a strategic review on the UK’s international climate leadership and introduce environmental and climate protections in future free trade agreements, removing trade barriers to environmental goods and services

8) Setting ourselves up for 2050 and beyond

  • Ramping up investment in research and development (R&D), with a new net zero R&D and technologies roadmap up to 2050, supporting up to 3 10-year demonstrator projects

Industry reaction:

Matt Rooney, Head of Engineering Policy at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said:

“The task to achieve Net Zero is the most ambitious engineering challenge ever untaken. But, as the Net Zero Review highlights, the benefits outweigh the costs. There is a significant economic opportunity for the UK to lead on developing technologies that are necessary for decarbonisation, including offshore wind and advanced nuclear.

”Important technologies for meeting Net Zero, notably carbon capture and storage, will be geographically dispersed around the country and so will assist with the Government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda.

”There are potential obstacles to achieving the rapid decarbonisation required, one of which being a lack of technical skills. Engineers and technicians will be vital to reaching Net Zero and we already know that there is shortfall in the pipeline of skills required. It is important that the Government recognise this and put forward the necessary resources to correct it.”

Chief Executive of Aviva, Amanda Blanc, said: ”I congratulate Chris and his team on such a comprehensive and ambitious Review. I hope both the government and opposition parties will take careful note of it and together act swiftly on its recommendations. In particular, as co-chair of the UK Transition Plan Taskforce, I strongly agree that the government should put in place its own ‘clear, consistent and stable transition plan’ setting out the detail of how the UK will meet its climate commitments. In turn, this will unlock the business actions and investment needed to make the transition a reality.”

Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, Nick Molho, said: ”The Skidmore Review is absolutely right to emphasise that the net zero transition is a major pro-business and pro-investment opportunity. Businesses have long recognised this, a fact that is reflected in the rapidly growing number that are taking on ambitious net zero emission targets backed by clear delivery strategies. In the challenging economic and social context currently faced by the UK, a rapid shift towards net zero offers much needed investment, competitiveness and job creation opportunities for UK businesses and investors in varied sectors such as construction, energy, manufacturing, engineering, transport and finance.”

Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Professor Lord Stern of Brentford, said: ”Chris Skidmore and his team deserve great credit for carrying out a rigorous, robust, and inclusive review of the evidence on the economics of the UK’s net-zero transition. In particular, the review has argued convincingly that the transition to a net-zero economy is the growth opportunity of the 21st century, and the UK is well-placed to benefit from the increasing demand for net-zero goods and services, if it makes the right public and private investments. It also correctly highlights the critical importance of government creating an environment that is conducive to this investment by providing clarity, certainty, consistency and continuity of policy. I hope the Prime Minister and his government will respond to the review with the urgency and scale required to prevent this enormous economic opportunity from slipping through our fingers. This transition, and the investment and innovation it embodies, are at the core of the UK’s growth story for the coming decade.”

Deputy Director of Policy at Logistics UK, Michelle Gardner, comments: “The logistics industry is keen to play its role in the decarbonisation agenda, however as a highly complex industry, this will not happen overnight. Logistics UK is encouraged by the review’s recognition of the opportunities and challenges involved and welcomes a number of recommendations – aimed at supporting industry on this journey – made within the report. 

“Logistics, like many other sectors of the UK economy, is facing increasing cost pressures and Logistics UK has long-called for greater certainty from government to allow businesses to plan and invest in the necessary technologies and infrastructure. We are therefore pleased that the review has recommended government provide this long-term certainty to allow businesses confidence in the knowledge that UK policy or funding will not rapidly change without very good reason. We hope this report will help shape future government policy.” 

UK100 CEO, Polly Billington, said: “This independent review confirms what UK100 has been saying for years: local authorities are the key to achieving the UK’s Net Zero goals.We were delighted to work with Chris Skidmore MP on the review and welcome it, particularly the recommendation to end the disjointed mess of short-term, competitive local authority funding pots. This move would help communities maximise the economic and social benefits of Net Zero while making the most cost-effective use of resources.UK100 is committed to empowering local leaders to deliver on the UK’s ambitious climate targets, but we need central government to take heed of the Net Zero Review’s findings and commit to unlocking the ambition of local authorities to deliver the most successful version of Net Zero.”

Gerry Keaney, BVRLA Chief Executive, said: “The sheer scale, depth and ambition of the Net Zero Review demonstrates the importance of this topic. Decarbonisation is not a choice. The review should be taken seriously by companies and governmental departments in every sector. Led by fleet, the automotive sector has long been a trailblazer in decarbonisation. 

“The gaps between the recommendations being published today and their ultimate transition into government policy will vary in size. Processes are complex and departments will need to come together to drive progress. Today’s review represents a monumental step forward. We will continue to actively engage with all stakeholders to represent the sector’s views and contribute to positive change.” 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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