A new review has been published by the UK government which argues that more should be done in order to reap the economic benefits presented by Net Zero, including banning new gas boilers, incentivising investment, and unlocking hydrogen.
Mission Zero – the new report from former energy minister Chris Skidmore – makes 129 recommendations covering areas including the greater role that business can be supported to play, making better use of infrastructure, and delivering more energy efficient homes. It is hoped that these recommendations will maximise economic investment, opportunities and jobs – all while working towards achieving legally binding targets to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
He urges ministers to grasp the “historic opportunity”, highlighting how the government’s Net Zero Strategy offers the right direction, and the right policies to do so.
“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,” said Skidmore.
“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.”
Skidmore’s proposals for green economic growth include backing business with 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.
He also advocates for backing local action by reforming the planning system to put net-zero at its heart; delivering energy efficient homes by legislating so that no new homes are built with gas boilers from 2025; and using infrastructure to unlock net-zero, including developing a cross-sectoral infrastructure strategy to support the beuilding and adaptation for new green energy sources such as hydrogen.
The Net Zero Review also referenced a recent report from the Institute for Mechanical Engineering: ‘Engineering a Net Zero Energy System’.
“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,” Matt Rooney, head of engineering policy at the Institution, said in response.
“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.”
“Climate change and sustainability are key priorities for the IMechE’s policy work and will form a core part of our policy work in the coming months and years, including an upcoming report on how industry will need to adapt to rising temperatures driven by global warming.”