Green industry reacts to Net Zero Growth Plan
Today (30 March), the Government has released a “growth plan” for its net zero goal. Totalling a hefty 126 pages, the new document responds to recommendations from Chris Skidmore’s Net Zero Review, and fulfils the government’s obligation to respond to the Climate Change Committee’s 2022 Progress Report to Parliament. The government’s original 2021 Net Zero Strategy was deemed “inadequate” and “unlawful” by the High Court.
Now, industry has delved into the announcements with varying levels of reactions, with spectrums varying from calling it a ‘a positive stimulus’ to a ‘missed opportunity.’ Gauging the temperature on the reaction from all of the stakeholders is an onerous task, so, this summary of comments from a wide variety of players offers-up a barometer of sentiment:
“For perhaps the first time, the Government has made commitments that clearly go beyond CCC proposals in key low-carbon technologies: offshore wind, nuclear, hydrogen. The new commitments are hugely ambitious – they would see the UK produce more electricity from offshore wind in 2030 than it has produced from gas in any year in history. Government, business and industry will need to focus relentlessly on delivery at a scale and pace as yet unseen.
“Recognising the difficulties in implementing effective policy quickly, it is still disappointing not to see more on energy efficiency and on supporting households to make changes that can cut their energy bills now. Government has reiterated its commitment to do more and we look forward to seeing details in the coming months.
Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive at UKGBC said:
“The Government has today doubled down on new clean energy generation, a positive stimulus at this febrile moment for energy security. But it has missed an opportunity by failing to publish a comprehensive national plan to curb the staggering levels of energy waste from our homes and buildings. Without this, we’re trapped into unsustainable demand for heat and electricity, making it extraordinarily difficult to see how we’ll pay our bills or hit our climate goals.
“Initiatives such as the ECO+ scheme and extension to heat pump support, while welcome, will only reach a fraction of the 27 million homes that need retrofitting. Similarly, reforms to the planning system set out today do not include the net zero test recommended by Chris Skidmore MP.
The Association of Renewable Energy and Clean Technologies’ (REA) chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska:
“Despite positive moves that will get vital renewable technologies delivered, we still need stronger ambitions to cement the UK’s position as a world leader in our sector. The UK is now in an international race for investment and needs to keep pace, as well as urgently delivering on net-zero ambitions.
The Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) chief campaigns director Syma Cullasy-Aldridge:
“In streamlining red tape, tackling the cumbersome planning process and identifying ways to catalyse investment, the Government is laying solid groundwork that will allow the green economy to take off. Backing for new technologies like hydrogen and nuclear, where the UK has the capacity to win big, is hugely welcome.
“With the strategy now set, the test is for all parts of Government and business to switch to delivery mode. We need to move at pace to keep up with fierce international competition for green investment.”
The Nuclear Industry Association’s chief executive Tom Greatrex:
“Great British Nuclear will transform the way nuclear projects are deployed in the UK, enabling us to deliver more capacity more quickly. It will help us become a global leader in large and small-scale nuclear, with the SMR selection process offering a real opportunity for home-grown technologies and others to bring jobs, skills and investment to the UK.
Welsh Affairs Committee chair Stephen Crabb MP:
“On the back of last week’s announcement on freeports, it is very welcome that the Government has now launched a funding scheme to encourage investment in infrastructure to support Floating Offshore Wind. This could turbocharge efforts to see open up the Celtic Sea to the green energy revolution, offering enormous economic opportunities for Welsh communities. It is essential that Welsh ports receive a fair share of the £160m package.
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas:
“The greenest thing about this plan is the recycling of already announced ideas. George Osborne first announced a competition for Small Modular Reactors in 2015. Carbon capture funding was announced in the Chancellor’s Budget earlier this month.
“And these aren’t just rehashed policies, but the wrong priorities. Our attention should instead be on the opportunities squandered by the Government today…. There was no announcement to lift the de facto ban on onshore wind; to mandate solar panels on all suitable new homes; or to provide a real street-by-street, local authority-led mass home insulation programme – merely an addendum to an already existing scheme.”
E3G’s campaigns director Ed Matthew:
“The world is undergoing the greatest industrial transformation in 300 years as the race to zero emissions intensifies. Most of the policies launched today were announced last year and are not bold enough to keep the UK competitive in the clean tech race or put us back on track to net zero. It is underwhelming.”
The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit’s (ECIU) head of energy, Jess Ralston:
“The gas crisis has made it clear that real energy security comes from moving away from oil and gas, particularly as the North Sea inevitably declines. With bills still high, no new money for insulation will leave many households in the cold.
“The Chancellor pushing back the response to the US Inflation Reduction Act and EU Net Zero Industry Act to the autumn could be the final nail in the coffin for businesses and offshore wind investors who will simply move investment to where there is long-term policy and regulatory certainty. If Government doesn’t create a level playing field for renewables compared to oil and gas, with inflation running high, this could see new wind farms still much cheaper than gas, but not as cheap as the last round approved.”
Green Alliance’s head of politics Chris Venables:
“The best way to provide energy security, create jobs and tackle climate change is through massive investment in existing green technology. If the US has set the bar with the Inflation Reduction Act, then the UK is falling far short, and still largely focusing on short-term fixes.
“There are some welcome policies here, like the mandate for electric vehicles, but it’s not at all clear that this plan shows how government will reduce emissions at the rate required by its own targets.”