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Peter Emery: COP26 is an opportunity to learn quickly

As part of our Countdown to COP campaign, Electricity North West chief executive Peter Emery gives his views on the potential for COP26 to accelerate the UK’s decarbonisation plans.

What opportunities does COP26 represent for the utilities sector, and how can we capitalise on them?

To showcase what we are doing

To learn from others quickly

To put more pressure on our political leaders to really focus on this issue

What does the UK need to achieve in the next nine months to present itself as a world leader in tackling climate change? What role can utilities play in that?

We can do nothing in 9 months to present ourselves as world leaders

What we can do is show some humility, demonstrate the great things we have done and show an ability to listen to others, learn and apply it quickly

There are lots of things the utilities have done which are pushing the envelope and are of interest to the world at large; the decarbonisation of power generation, the development of offshore wind, the early stages of transitioning to a decentralised electricity distribution system, the early deployment of storage technology, the early deployment of EV infrastructure

Where do you see further opportunities for pan-utilities co-operation on the path to decarbonisation?

The development of the DSO concept from a theoretical one to a practical proposition

The clarification of the role of the DSO and the ESO/ISO to speed up the transition to net zero

What is your principle ask of government and/or regulators to unlock the sector’s potential to accelerate the green transition?

Work with industry to really understand the barriers preventing/slowing the net zero transition and collaborate on practical solutions

How can utilities help to encourage all consumers to be more active participants in the net-zero journey?

By making it easy for them to participate

By providing them with transparent, straightforward data to enable them to make sensible decisions

By working with government to help people really focus on what can be done now in small but significant steps.