The government has published the details of its eagerly-awaited Clean Growth Strategy, which includes a commitment to invest more than £2.5bn in low carbon technology.
The wide-ranging document covers business and industrial efficiency, home improvements, low carbon transport, renewable energy and natural resources.
Some of the commitments in the strategy have already been announced, or trailed in advance, such as the pledge to end the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
It also follows the announcement of another Contracts for Difference auction round for renewable energy, which will take place in spring 2019.
But the document also includes new commitments, including a pledge to work with the offshore wind industry to develop a ‘sector deal’, which could result in 10 gigawatts of new capacity.
It also restates the government’s commitment to deliver new nuclear power through the controversial Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.
The business secretary Greg Clark said the government was putting clean growth at ‘the heart of its industrial strategy’ to ensure Britain ‘continues to lead the world in efforts to tackle climate change’
‘The world is moving from being powered by polluting fossil fuels to clean energy,’ said Mr Clark.
‘It’s as big a change as the move from the age of steam to the age of oil and Britain is showing the way.’
In terms of low carbon transport, the strategy also includes a pledge to spend £1bn supporting the take up of ultra-low emission vehicles and another to develop ‘one of the best electric vehicle charging networks in the world’.
The government will also work with the automotive industry to develop a ‘sector deal’ to accelerate the transition to zero emission vehicles.
There is also a commitment to invest up to £100m in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.
It also states the government wants to see around a million homes benefit from energy efficiency improvements, with all fuel poor households to be upgraded to Energy Performance Certificate band C by 2030.
There is also a promise to work towards zero avoidable waste by 2050 and a commitment to publish a new resources and waste strategy, which according to the government, will make the UK a ‘world leader in terms of competitiveness, resource productivity and resource efficiency’.
But Labour’s shadow energy and climate change minister, Alan Whitehead, said the new strategy ‘fails in its fundamental task of laying out a pathway for us to reach our legally required climate targets’.
‘While I welcome many of the new initiatives outlined, I am disappointed to see that the long-awaited strategy falls short in addressing a number of key questions, including – most importantly – how we are going to meet our targets,’ said Mr Whitehead.
‘By the government’s own calculations, these proposals will put us put us on track to miss both our fourth and fifth carbon budgets.’
The senior climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, Simon Bullock, said while there were ‘huge gaps’ in the strategy itself, the government has presented ‘tackling climate change as a massive opportunity for economic rebirth and for Britain to lead the world’.
‘But clearly there is far more actual policy needed,’ he added. ‘The plan does not deliver on UK targets for cutting emissions, let alone the more ambitious Paris climate agreement, and some parts of government are still firmly stuck in a rut of more fossil fuels, roads and runways.’
The UK managing director of Dong Energy, Matthew Wright, said he looked forward to working with the government on delivering the terms of the strategy.
‘Offshore wind can be the backbone of the UK’s energy system, providing a substantial source of green energy for consumers, as well as creating high quality jobs across the country in a thriving UK supply chain,’ said Mr Wright.
And the chief executive of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, Luke Warren, welcomed the ‘recognition of both the critical role of CCS to reducing CO2 emissions’ in the document.
‘However, delivering a strategy requires action and there is a lack of detail on how these ambitions will be delivered. Government and industry must now work together to define the steps required to deliver CCS and make meaningful progress on these this parliament if the UK is be a leader in this field,’ added Mr Warren.
The co-chair of the renewables practice at the law firm, Norton Rose Fulbright, Robert Marsh, said the publication of the Clean Growth Strategy marked a ‘watershed in UK energy policy’.
‘The plan will potentially be most disruptive in the transport sector,’ said Mr Marsh. ‘The government intends to develop one of the best electric vehicle charging networks in the world by investing an additional £80m to support charging infrastructure deployment and taking new powers to facilitate this.
‘It also will seek to cut emissions in public transport and work with the automotive industry, and the public sector in the transition to zero emissions vehicles.’
Photo by G&R