UK economy missing out due to inaction on net zero – report

The UK economy could see a 2% growth in GDP if it scaled up net zero ambitions, according to a new report from former Tory MP Chris Skidmore.  

Skidmore’s long awaited 340-page report landed today, with 25 recommendations on how the UK’s approach to net zero could be improved, as well as the benefits of reaching net zero, from improving health to creating jobs. 

A big theme of the report is just how financially beneficial reaching net zero could be, driving down costs for businesses and individuals, while inaction by ten years could increase the national debt by 23%.  

The review also highlighted a 2022 Oxford study which revealed that decarbonising could save the world $12 trillion by 2050 compared to continued use of fossil fuels.  

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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. 

‘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.’  

Government failures on energy efficiency were noted in the report, calling for a mandate on the Future Homes Standard by 2025 to ensure new homes are energy efficient and low carbon. For non-domestic buildings, the minimum energy efficiency rating should be elevated to EPC B by 2030.  

Labour MP Ed Miliband said the Net Zero Review highlighted the ‘total failure of the government to act with the urgency that the climate crisis demands.’  

Other recommendations include a definitive date for the phase out of gas boiler should be in place by 2024 and a review on incentives for decarbonisation by the end of this year.  

Skidmore said it was key that the UK ‘move quickly’ to address skills shortages and inconsistent policies, saying ‘we know that investing in net zero today will be cheaper than delaying, as well as increasing the economic and climate benefits.’  

Other actions include rapidly accelerating the expansion of renewables so that solar is set to reach 70GW by 2050, implementing a clear roadmap on carbon capture and to form a plan on engaging the public more effectively by the end of this year.  

UK100 CEO, Polly Billington, commended the review for recognising the key role that local authorities can play in achieving net zero. The report said it was essential for government to ‘empower people and places to deliver’ and recommended a reduction in competitive bidding, so it was easier for councils to access local net zero funding.  

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.’  

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