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Tue, 7 July 2020

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The energy sector can power a sustainable, green recovery. Here’s how

The energy sector can power a sustainable, green recovery. Here’s how

There’s an indisputable logic to tackling both together and to creating a sustainable, green recovery focused on the net-zero target, says Sam Hollister | Credit: Energy UK

Sam Hollister, Director of Economics and Corporate Services | Energy UK

4 min read Commercial

Big ambitious infrastructure programmes to upgrade our housing, decarbonise transport and create a modern flexible energy system, along with the development of industrial clusters based around new low carbon technologies, will provide exactly the scale of economic stimulus we need.

It’s just over a year ago since Theresa May announced that the UK was going to become the first major economy to commit to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

It would be the understatement of a lifetime to say that a lot has happened since then, but it’s unfortunately also true that very little of this has helped us set a course to deliver this target.

We have been given a glimpse into a net-zero future with reduced emissions, less pollution on our roads and significant changes to energy demand - but these have been inadvertent consequences resulting from a situation nobody wanted. Some might presage a permanent shift – others like transport look like they will swiftly rebound to normal.   

Quite rightly, everyone’s focus in recent months has been on dealing with the immediate crisis in front of us.

That goes for the energy sector as much as anywhere, with our companies and our people working hard to keep this essential service supplied to our homes and businesses in the face of challenging circumstances, while also supporting customers left in difficulties by this sudden shock.

This unprecedented crisis has already inflicted huge damage – most tragically with the loss of lives – but also to our economy, to businesses and employment with the consequent effects on people’s lives and welfare, which will be felt for some time to come.

There’s an indisputable logic to tackling both together and to creating a sustainable, green recovery focused on the net-zero target.

Kickstarting an economy recovery to counteract the damage inflicted over the last few months is therefore an immediate priority but the other challenge – one that will be with us long after the virus has hopefully been consigned to history – of tackling climate change and reaching Net Zero still faces us. And with less than three decades until 2050, both are equally urgent.

So there’s an indisputable logic to tackling both together and to creating a sustainable, green recovery focused on the net-zero target.

There has been a chorus of voices making this call in recent weeks and our sector would play a central role in making it happen.

That’s why today we’ve published a report, in partnership with PWC, called Rebuilding the UK economy: Fairer, cleaner, more resilient, setting out exactly how energy can power the recovery and where the right mixture of policy framework, investment and incentives can set us on the way.

With the Government still to publish, you could call this our own Energy White Paper and I would really encourage you to read it, engage with it, and debate its merits.     

As you’ll see, there is of course a huge amount to do if we are to transform an entire economy but this can be a positive.

Big ambitious infrastructure programmes to upgrade our housing, decarbonise transport and create a modern flexible energy system, along with the development of industrial clusters based around new low carbon technologies, will provide exactly the scale of economic stimulus we need.

They can provide skilled long-term jobs and opportunities in all areas of the country, boost local economies and supply chains, attract pent-up investment and spur innovation – helping us reap the rewards from developing world leading low carbon technology.

The payback will be widespread economic, environmental and societal benefits.

And the good news is that we would be ready to go with much of this work.

The UK has led the world in reducing its emissions and with well over half of our electricity generated from low carbon sources, we have expertise and a track record of successful delivery to build upon.

It’s both a huge challenge and an unprecedented opportunity and we’re ready to work with the Government, and indeed all our partners, to set the UK on the path to a better future without delay. 

 

You can read the full report here.

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