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Budget 2020: Mixed reactions from energy sector as Budget lacks net zero ambition

Image: HM Treasury.

Image: HM Treasury.

The long awaited Budget was presented yesterday to both cheers and groans from the energy sector. While the electric vehicle and carbon capture and storage advocates welcomed the increased investment, the lack of mention of renewables and the broader energy transition has been branded as ‘disappointing’ by the industry.

Companies, groups and charities operating in the energy and environmental space gave Current± their reactions to the fabled red briefcase.

Energy UK’s interim chief executive, Audrey Gallacher:

“The Budget rightly addresses the current extraordinary circumstances but meeting the Net Zero target and tackling climate change over the coming years and decades also requires urgent action.

“We welcome funding for electric vehicles infrastructure, developing carbon capture and storage and supporting low carbon heating alternatives - but the forthcoming white paper and National Infrastructure Strategy will need to show greater and wider ambition in order to go further and faster across all our efforts to reduce emissions.

“In particular, we need to get started on a national programme to make our homes and businesses energy efficient and enable the increased investment in a variety of low carbon generation technologies that will be required to power our economy as we move towards the net zero target.”

Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, chief executive of the REA:

“This Budget provides some welcome fiscal support for the renewable energy and clean technology; there are clear steps in the right direction especially around the Green Gas Obligation consultation, extension of the domestic RHI, carbon capture and storage, decarbonising transport and R&D funding. This Budget, however, does not make the strides needed to fully unleash the potential of the sector and pave the way to net zero.

“With the declared climate emergency, the government needs to take decisive action to produce a whole-government net zero strategy that includes a detailed, funded and measurable roadmap that delivers the wholesale systems-change required to decarbonise the economy, and then ensure that we have an effective taxation system that protects natural capital, and incentivises renewable energy and clean technology beyond fossil fuels.”

Nicola Shaw, UK executive director for National Grid:

"We welcome today’s Budget which makes key commitments on the areas of electric vehicle charging and carbon capture and storage.

"It's great to see that range anxiety has been recognised as a key blocker to the mass take-up of electric vehicles. We look forward to working with government on their review of charging infrastructure along the full strategic road network.

"By investing today in the electricity infrastructure that will support the charging hubs of tomorrow, the government can help fast-track the take-up of EVs, cutting carbon and improving air quality for communities the length and breadth of the country.

"We welcome also the funding commitment for carbon capture and storage in multiple clusters, which is critical to the decarbonisation of Britain’s industrial heartlands. Deploying this technology and accelerating progress in the development of carbon transport and storage infrastructure will drive future growth in places like the Humber and help to preserve tens of thousands of jobs."

Matt Clemow, CEO of Igloo Energy:

"It’s positive to see the Chancellor investing a significant amount of money into charging points across the country. This should make buying an electric vehicle a viable option for drivers looking to reduce their impact on the planet.

“However, this isn’t as a truly “green” investment. Currently, most electric vehicles are being charged with the dirtiest fuels available. Not only is this detrimental to the planet, it’s wasting drivers’ money. Until 100% of the electricity we use as a country is green, electric vehicles won’t be. Therefore the infrastructure has to be improved and more investment put into renewables. I hope to see this being heavily discussed at the United Nations Climate Change summit in November."

Mike Childs head of policy at Friends of the Earth:

“This Budget contains a massive road-building programme which completely destroys any pretence of UK government leadership ahead of this years’ crucial climate summit.

“Funding for cleaner cars, EV charging, action on plastics and more trees are just a few green sprinklings on a truly awful Budget.

“This Budget will wreck the countryside with new roads, leave Britain choking on filthy air, and further fuel the climate crisis.

“When it comes to fixing our broken planet, this Chancellor certainly isn’t getting it done.”

Darren Walsh, energy partner at DWF:

"There are a number of subtle positives announced by the Chancellor in today's Budget in connection with energy and the low carbon economy. It is pleasing to see still further expansion of the Energy Innovation Programme, as this covers a broad cross section of low carbon initiatives, including renewables, smart energy system technologies, nuclear, built environment, etc. There is clear support for a carbon capture and storage power station by 2030 but there remains a lack of clear direction for new nuclear build which, as part of the overall energy mix, is essential in meeting the country's decarbonisation targets by 2050 (or earlier).

"In addition, support for further decarbonisation of the transport system is welcomed with support for additional EV fast-charging infrastructure. There is continued support for domestic and non-domestic RHI schemes."

Justin Meyer, managing director of SWARCO eVolt:

“This is a really positive announcement for the industry. It is encouraging to see central government committing to support the expansion of the public charging network.

"With this funding we can build a substantial network, which will follow on from the work Highways England is doing to ensure that 95% of England’s motorways and A-roads are within 20 miles of a charge point. It is schemes like this, which SWARCO is proud to be part of, and the ones that will come out of the newly-announced £500m funding pot, which will make a real difference to encouraging people to swap their petrol and diesel cars in favour of electric.

"We would still like to see more provision for the charging infrastructure that serves EV taxis, building on the Ultra Low Emission Taxi Infrastructure Scheme which is supporting operators in rolling out ultra low emission taxis. A denser public rapid charging network, however, will benefit everyone, from private individuals to businesses operating fleets."

Simon Daniel, CEO of Moixa:

“This infrastructure Budget must be a springboard to reimagine and deliver a low-carbon and resilient economy of localism, net-zero homes, renewable energy, and mobility. Announcements, such as the £1bn investment in electric transport, are steps in the right direction but we must use this as a national reset and address the ultimate opportunity for COP26 and Global Britain to showcase to the world how to achieve a net zero economy.”

Will Gardiner, CEO of Drax Group:

“The funding pledged today for the development of two or more carbon capture and storage clusters demonstrates the government’s commitment to communities and businesses in the North - ensuring the region is well placed to take advantage of new opportunities created by a decarbonising economy.

“By accelerating the development of vital negative emissions technologies like bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), which is being pioneered by Drax, we can permanently remove millions of tonnes of CO2 each year from the atmosphere.

“The Humber is the UK’s most carbon intensive region and home to 55,000 jobs in manufacturing and other industries. Decarbonising the Humber would therefore have a major impact - delivering for the environment and the economy, securing jobs and a long-term future for businesses which could otherwise be left behind.”

Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK:

“Far from ‘getting it done’ for climate and nature, the Chancellor has completely missed the opportunity to address the climate emergency. Instead, by announcing £27bn for new roads, it seems he’s driving in the opposite direction. Ending the red diesel tax break and the Nature for Climate Fund announcements are important steps. But they are just a fraction of what is needed to get the UK on track to delivering net zero before COP26.

“The government must lead by example if it’s to have any leverage to encourage other countries to increase their ambition at the global climate summit this year. The Chancellor will only redeem himself by rapidly increasing spending on climate and nature to at least 5%, making our buildings highly efficient and significantly boosting public transport in the National Infrastructure Strategy and Spending Review later this year.”


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