Four actions in four months till COP will help ensure Britain makes the most of the opportunity
Unit 2 Nuclear Island, Hinkley Point C | Credit: EDF
COP26 is different - there is the chance for the UK to lead the way on securing long lasting change.
As we celebrate Net Zero Week, COP26 is only four months away. It will be an opportunity to bring greater focus to the need for climate action and showcase Britain’s leadership. To capitalise on this and make real strides to Net Zero by 2050, I want to highlight four areas for progress in those four months:
1. Government strategies to decarbonise heat and transport
Heating our homes accounts for around 29% of a person’s carbon footprint every year – so we need to move away from burning fossil fuels in gas boilers. Currently just 30,000 low carbon electric heat pumps are installed each year – one twentieth of the Government's target of 600,000 annually by 2028. A clear strategy to get Britain’s housing stock heat pump ready, accelerate their installation and identify financial support to help customers switch is crucial. The programme will support a green recovery. The Heat Pump Association says the number of heat pump installers will need to increase from around 2,000 today to 50,000 by 2030 and all in all, the heat decarbonisation programme could support a further 150,000 high-quality jobs. Similarly, the strategy for electric vehicles to persuade consumers to move away from petrol and diesel is vital for net zero and can create significant British jobs.
2. Financing arrangements for new nuclear
Investment in low carbon electricity generation also creates jobs and opportunities across the country. Our new nuclear power station Hinkley Point C in Somerset will support 71,000 jobs in Britain during construction, including many traineeships and apprenticeships that have nurtured the next generation of skilled workers. It will meet 7% of the country’s electricity needs with zero carbon power.
It’s why we’re eager for continued progress for Sizewell C in Suffolk. As a replica of Hinkley Point C, construction will be faster and cheaper and will utilise the expert British supply chain and skills Hinkley Point C has developed. Continued investment in British jobs and reliable, zero carbon electricity to power the nation for generations is a real win-win for the country, but to deliver this we need an investment framework from the Government and legislation to proceed.
3. Clarity about how the costs and benefits of Net Zero should be shared
The transition will be a dramatic one for our society. We need to make sure it is fair and accessible to all. That means being open with people about the costs of getting to Net Zero, and there is work to do on how both the costs and benefits can be shared fairly. Much of the detail will be in the Treasury’s Net Zero Review, which I hope to see published by summer. Large businesses like my own have an important role in achieving change. We’ve made helping Britain achieve Net Zero our central mission. We are Britain’s biggest generator of zero carbon electricity from wind, nuclear and solar, and we’re enabling £50 billion worth of investment in low carbon technologies. In addition to supplying clean electricity, we are helping all our customers cut carbon and costs – be that by switching to an electric vehicle and electric heat pump or implementing energy efficiency changes in their homes and businesses.
4. Increased public engagement on climate change
We need to bring the public along with us on this journey. On top of the practical support, the more creative ways we can find to engage as many people as possible, the better. We’re currently sponsoring the Round Britain Climate Challenge which sees UN Ambassador Sacha Dench attempting two Guinness World Records as she flies around the coast of Britain in an electric paramotor to highlight climate change and the people and organisations tackling it. It’s been fantastic to see the impact that’s already having, and I encourage everyone to follow her journey and make a pledge to act on climate change via Count Us In.
By making progress in these four areas in the next four months, Britain can make this COP year one with a real legacy.
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