Published this week, the CCC report said the strategy contains a ‘welcome recognition’ of the challenge the UK faces in meeting its emission reduction targets. But in the next breath, Parliament’s climate change watchdog said the strategy falls ‘well short’ of achieving the kind of emissions reductions needed to meet statutory targets, to take effect in five years’ time.
Utility Week spoke to industry delegates about whether they agree with the committee, and if the report goes far enough…
Dr Luke Warren, chief executive of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA): “The government should not be planning to meet its climate commitments without CCS [carbon capture and storage].
“We strongly agree the government must set out its plans this year to start a UK CCS industry. This is necessary so that the first CCS projects can be in operation during the 2020s. We look forward to working with government to develop a new approach to delivering CCS in the UK.”
David Smith, CEO of the Energy Networks Association (ENA): “We strongly welcome the recognition that the CCC gives to the continued role of gas networks in the decarbonisation of our economy, and their enduring role in home heating to 2030 and beyond. Through investment under Ofgem’s RIIO price control system, carbon reduction and CCS projects across the country, our gas networks are at the very forefront of finding new and innovative ways to decarbonise heat and transport.
“Given our power, heat, transport and waste sectors are all interdependent, so must the solutions be to their decarbonisation. What is important now is that the government takes the opportunity to develop a whole system approach to utilising our gas and electricity networks working together, to fill the gaps in policy that the CCC has highlighted.”
Dustin Benton, Green Alliance’s policy director: “The government says clean growth is the biggest economic opportunity of the century, but, as the CCC has highlighted, its transport and housing policy is still stuck in the past.
“It’s shocking that emissions from transport have risen, despite huge technological innovation. Electric vehicles (EVs) are now as cheap to run as conventional cars and we calculate that banning petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 – rather than the government’s 2040 target – would halve UK oil imports. It’s a no-brainer for industry too: the UK has a £5 billion trade deficit in fossil-fuelled cars but Europe’s largest EV plant is in the UK. If the Department for Transport doesn’t catch up soon the electric cars of the future won’t be made in Britain.
“And on housing, energy efficiency rates fell off a cliff back in 2012. Six years later and nothing has changed. Worse, cancelling the zero carbon homes policy has meant people will be paying over the odds for their energy for decades, even though zero carbon homes can now be built for the same price as conventional ones. If the new housing ministry is to live up to its name, it needs to make sure the homes we build are fit for the future.”
Michael Grubb, Professor of International Energy and Climate Change Policy at University College London (UCL): “There has been a three-year hiatus in decision-making on new policies to deliver our carbon goals, and the Clean Growth Strategy must mark a new phase.
“There are plenty of good ideas out there on low-carbon energy, cutting emissions from buildings, clean transport and more, but as the committee rightly points out, concrete plans need to be put in place, and soon.
“The government is making all the right noises on support for the low-carbon economy, but these must be turned into action: we need a year of decision-making.”
Vijay Shinde, grid services lead at engineering, environment and design consultancy Sweco: “The number of EVs on our roads could reach nine million by 2030. But while they hold the greatest potential for reducing fuel emissions, an EV clocking 20,000 miles a year will use the same amount of electricity as an average household. This huge surge in demand for electrical capacity will demand a drastic rethink in how grid connections are structured and how infrastructure is developed.
“The scale of this challenge is clear. Councils must focus on positioning high-powered stations to meet the needs of the highest number of people and integrate them in a way that will be embraced by communities. But with such low numbers applying for funding, the government may need to rethink how it incentivises authorities to use the money available from its On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme.”
The CCC report concluded: “Existing proposals are insufficient to fill the gap in the carbon budget and more measures need to be taken.”
It said the window to develop policies, which will enable the UK to meet its statutory emission reduction targets, is ‘small’ thanks to the delayed publication of the strategy in October, more than a year after the fifth budget was set, back in the summer of 2016.