How we can seize the opportunities from the UK’s transition to net-zero
Having signed net-zero into law in 2019, Chair of the UK government’s Net Zero Review and former UK energy minister, Chris Skidmore MP, sets out how we can build on the positive momentum from Mission Zero.
When I signed net-zero into law back in 2019, if someone had told me that 90% of the world’s GDP would now be subject to a net-zero target, I simply would not have believed them. There has been enormous progress, both in the UK and internationally. For the 90% of nations who have signed net-zero goals into law by mid century, we have seen a dynamic priority shift at the government, corporate and individual level. This must be recognised for the momentous achievement that it is, while at the same time recognising that this is but the first step on our journey.
Reaching net-zero is both the challenge and the opportunity of this century. Achieving it is the bare minimum we must do to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. It is important to also recognise that net-zero is not just about some abstract date in 2050. We simply do not have the time available to us to think of net-zero as some 28-year, middle of the century project. For if the UK is to achieve net-zero by 2050, as we are legally obliged to, we must first meet our Nationally Determined Contribution for 2030 of 68% emission reductions compared to 1990s levels, or we will not be on an achievable track.
The UK has been a world leader in decarbonisation and green technologies, a history we should be proud of. During the Net Zero Review, I was fortunate enough to meet over a thousand individuals and businesses across our country who are working to deliver net-zero. They are the living testament of the opportunities that the energy transition can bring.
In the Net Zero Review, titled Mission Zero, businesses and communities told us an approach driven by a mission to provide certainty, clarity, continuity, and consistency, would galvanise net-zero momentum and deliver tremendous green growth in the UK. Constantly we heard that both businesses and local government are desperate for measures that will allow them to seize the opportunities of the transition. The Review set out 129 recommendations for government, of which 70 could be initiated in this Parliament.
I was pleased to see the government’s response on the 30th of March that they have agreed to take forward 75 of those recommendations and even recently have further agreed to take forward recommendations such as a net-zero duty for the regulator Ofgem. But above all net-zero delivery is not simply about the present, but about providing future stability of policy frameworks. That long term, programmatic approach to net-zero is vital if we are to de-risk both the cost of capital and investment needed.
Now is the time to go further, faster towards the transition, because there are only opportunities to be had and only opportunities to be lost
To capitalise on the momentum of the Review, I have established the Mission Zero Coalition, which will start with three Mission Zero Networks around three areas of focus which formed a mission in the Review: local government, buildings and industry. My goal is to work with these networks and have policy papers out in time for party conferences later in the year which will lay out in further detail the missions that were referenced in the Net Zero Review.
Now is the time to go further, faster towards the transition, because there are only opportunities to be had and only opportunities to be lost. The choice before us is the net-zero path – which will lead to £1tn by 2030 of inward investment, or the not zero path, which would see that investment go elsewhere.
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