Saturday, July 20, 2024

Chris Skidmore launches net zero review

The government’s independent review into the delivery of net zero climate commitments is launched today (Monday 26 September), with a focus on ensuring the UK’s fight against climate change maximises economic growth, while increasing energy security and affordability for consumers and businesses.  

The UK’s target to reach net zero by 2050 remains in place. Former Energy Minister Chris Skidmore MP will lead the rapid review of the government’s approach to delivering its net zero target, after being commissioned by the Business and Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg.

It comes a year after the government published its Net Zero Strategy, setting out an overarching approach to carbon neutrality. Since then, there have been major changes to the economic and political landscape: Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, historically high global energy prices and high inflation. These changes have placed huge pressures on British households and businesses and make it vital that the UK reaches Net Zero in a way that avoids exporting industry and emissions overseas.

This new review aims to identify new ways to deliver the legally binding target by 2050 in a way that is pro-business and pro-growth.  The review will examine:

  • What the most pro-business, pro-growth and economically efficient path to reaching net zero is;
  • How to maximise the economic opportunities that the target presents as well as increase innovation, investment, exports and jobs; and
  • What the economic costs and benefits are associated with new and emerging policies and technologies

To do this, Mr Skidmore’s review will consider a range of evidence, consulting widely with consumers, investors, industrial leaders and experts in various fields including energy, land use and transport. He will report to the Government with a set of recommendations by the end of this year to help turbocharge our transition to net zero by identifying key economic opportunities.

He will also be holding a series of roundtables across the country, seeking as many views as possible to ensure that people not only reap the environmental benefits of tackling climate change, but the economic benefits too.

Chair of the Net Zero Review Chris Skidmore said:

“The UK continues to lead the world on tackling climate change, having been the first G7 country to commit in law to net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.

“This review seeks to ‘double down’ on how we can ensure that our energy transition happens at the same time as maximising the economic opportunity for businesses and households across the country, providing huge opportunities for innovation, investment, exports and jobs. I want to ensure that net zero isn’t just viewed as the right thing to do for our environment- but becomes an essential driver of economic growth. 

“I’m kicking off a three-month review today to find the best ways of making this happen – speaking to as many people in as many sectors and regions as possible, to ensure the review generates fresh policy ideas that can ensure we deliver a ‘big bang’ moment for net zero.”

Secretary of State for Business and Energy, Jacob Rees Mogg, said:  

“The government remains committed to reaching our net zero emissions targets, but with Russia weaponising energy across Europe we must make sure we do so in a way that increases energy security and does not place undue burdens on businesses or consumers.  

“Chris Skidmore’s rapid review will help us identify how best to make that happen, while also ensuring all parts of the UK reap the economic benefits of tackling climate change that I have no doubt will be on offer.”

The UK has already managed to grow its economy by 76%, while cutting its emissions by over 44% since 1990 – decarbonising faster than any other G7 country.  Official statistics also 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.  

Over the past year, a range of companies have sought to invest in the UK’s green infrastructure, creating jobs across the country, including:

  • JDR Cable Systems in Hartlepool, who are on track with construction of a £130million subsea cable facility in Blyth, creating 171 high quality local jobs on completion.
  • Siemens Gamesa, who are investing £186 million into expanding its offshore wind blade factory in Hull;
  • Rolls Royce, who have secured £490 million for its small modular reactors programme; and
  • ScottishPower, who are investing £150 million into a 100MW green hydrogen plant in Felixstowe to power trains, trucks and ships.

All this comes as there is clear support for climate action in the UK, but in a way that benefits the economy as well as the environment.

Jonathan Geldart, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said:

“We welcome the government’s commitment to working closely with business to make its world-leading net zero by 2050 target a reality.

“The UK business community recognises the importance of building a sustainable economy and the transition to net zero is more important than ever, given the imperative of reducing business dependence on expensive fossil fuels. Business needs an evidence-based, long-term vision from government so that they can build net zero into their planning and maximise its economic potential.

“We look forward to working with the government independent review in the coming months to ensure that the UK can deliver net zero in a way that maximises the opportunities for UK businesses.”

Dan McGrail, Chief Executive at RenewableUK, said:

“This review gives us the chance to ensure that the UK makes the most of cheap renewable power to deliver net zero at lowest cost and boost competitiveness across the economy.

“Cheap, clean energy is fundamental to growing new high-value technologies, decarbonising the UK’s industrial base and boosting exports. “Whether it’s building up the supply chain for the £175bn of planned investment in wind energy or developing a globally competitive green hydrogen sector, there are huge opportunities to further grow the UK’s economy as we cut our dependence on fossil fuels.”

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