The war for the world has begun, battle lines have been drawn and utilities are arming themselves for the challenge ahead.

Yet while the will may be there to march towards the Committee on Climate Change’s net zero emissions target, the route towards a cleaner future by 2050 is less clear.

And the clock is ticking.

The government’s official adviser is convinced that net zero is achievable, albeit with a huge leap in ambition across several critical areas. The use of petrol and diesel cars, as well as natural gas boilers, must end by 2035. And clean electricity generation, a key enabler of future low-cost decarbonisation, must quadruple.

And it won’t be cheap, requiring tens of billions of pounds of investment every year, equating to approximately 1-2 per cent of Britain’s GDP.

So what will it all mean for utilities? And what do they need to do to ensure that the rapidly shrinking timeframe ahead of them is used to its optimum, which is the only way we can have any real hope of achieving the required swifter electrification of transport and decarbonisation of heating?

Certainly, a lot appears to be riding on hydrogen, and the gas industry welcomes that.

But government must support utilities across the piece. It must come up with genuine solutions and actions quickly, if they are to help make change happen. Policies need to be in place, along with a robust game plan for delivery.

Interestingly, the Committee on Climate Change report this time makes strong reference to the importance of regulation in the new paradigm. This will be vital to ensure the sector has clear targets in its sights, and real support with financial planning for such historic change.

Without such guidelines, what some naysayers currently view as pie in the sky environmental politicking risks becoming just that.

Utilities can do their bit – indeed they are already doing so. But combatting the “climate emergency” and capitalising on clean growth will take huge and consistent political effort.

The call to arms has been made.

All eyes will now be on government and any action plan that it chooses to unfold in the weeks and months ahead.

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