30 November 2021
Darryl Murphy assesses the implications and opportunities for infrastructure investors.
On October 18, the UK government launched the Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener1 document, which sets out its priorities to reduce emissions in power, transport, industry and buildings.
The 368-page document, purposely released just ahead of the COP26 summit in Glasgow, provides much-needed detail and a holistic perspective on the steps required to achieve net zero by 2050. Simultaneously, it makes a compelling case on the benefits this will provide to the economy in terms of green jobs, while acknowledging the challenge of how the associated costs will be socialised to consumers.
In all respects, the document is a big step forward from the government's previous publications, Ten Point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution2 and the Energy White Paper3, which were big on ambition but lacked detail. The document has even received a positive endorsement from the Climate Change Committee (CCC), the independent statutory body set up to provide advice to the government, which it has frequently criticised for a perceived lack of progress to date4.
In its assessment, the CCC described the strategy as "an achievable, affordable plan that will bring jobs, investment and wider benefits to the UK. It is also a strong example to bring to the COP26 summit of how to follow climate change targets with action."
The CCC's chairman, Lord Deben, praised the government for its ambition, albeit with a caveat. "Ministers have made the big decisions – to decarbonise the power sector by 2035, to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles, to back heat pumps for homes. And they have proposed policies to do it. I applaud their ambition. Now they must deliver these goals and fill in the remaining gaps in funding and implementation. My Committee will hold their feet to the fire, as we are required to under the Climate Change Act. This is the UK's climate governance working as it should."
1. 'Net Zero Strategy: Build back greener', HM Government, October 2021
2. 'The ten point plan for a green industrial revolution', GOV.UK, November 18, 2020
3. 'Energy white paper: Powering our net zero future', GOV.UK, December 18, 2020
4. 'Government's Net Zero Strategy is a major step forward, CCC says', Climate Change Committee, October 26, 2021