The Climate Change Committee (CCC) released two progress reports yesterday (24 June), highlighting the gap between climate targets and policy.
Progress in reducing emissions - 2021 Report to Parliament flagged the relative success of the energy sector’s decarbonisation, and Progress in adapting to climate change - 2021 Report to Parliament stated the sector had made advances in preparing for increasingly extreme weather events.
But despite the progress, there are still policy gaps, in particular in areas like low-carbon heating and electrification of transport. Current± caught up with the energy sector to find out what they thought of the CCC’s reports.
Energy UK’s chief executive, Emma Pinchbeck,:
“As the CCC’s report notes, the energy sector has led the way in reducing carbon emissions and has a crucial role to play in helping the country reach Net Zero. It’s two years since the Government put the Net Zero target into law, and whilst the long term ambition is brilliant, we urgently need to crack on with emissions reduction now”
“We agree with this report’s findings that we need detailed policies and strategies that will allow us to mobilise the investment needed in new infrastructure, technologies and behaviour change. The more we delay these policies and strategies, the harder the task becomes.
“If we get the right policies and strategies the industry is confident we can deliver – we’ve gone much faster than any thought possible on things like renewable. But change takes time – hitting 78% emissions reduction by 2035 means taking action on policy and regulation today. In the year that the UK hosts COP26, the Government needs to show leadership at home as well as internationally, and throw everything at the next decade. They could start with a Net Zero test across the whole economy, and ensuring our legislation dating back to 2013 is updated through a new Energy Bill.”
David Smith, chief executive at Energy Networks Association:
“The energy networks are the foundation on which we’ll build Net Zero. Whether it’s electric vehicles, or heat pumps and hydrogen, the networks are already doing much of the heavy-lifting to deliver a smarter, more flexible energy system in a cost-effective way. Acting on the Climate Change Committee’s recommendations will help turn climate talk into climate action and, backed by regulation that allows strategic investment, we can unlock a more innovative, Net Zero future for customers across the UK.”
Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen:
“Today’s assessment from the Climate Change Committee has laid bare the gap between the government’s climate ambition and the painfully slow pace of decision making on key policies to phase out the use of fossil fuels. In the run up to hosting COP26 in November, the UK’s opportunity to show global leadership and unleash a green jobs revolution is now being put at risk. Regen is calling for urgent progress on policies including:
- A transformational Heat and Buildings strategy underpinned by a clear end date on new fossil fuel heating systems, fixing distortion of levies on (low carbon) electricity bills instead of high carbon gas and oil, and long-term incentives to help householders upgrade their homes.
- A laser-like focus on the transition to a zero carbon power system including backing wind and solar with an ambitious round of Contracts for Difference, a clearer zero carbon remit for Ofgem and the System Operator, and investment in preparing our energy networks for EV charging, heat pumps and decentralised renewable generation.
- Devolution of net zero powers and funding to cities and regions to enable solutions that work for local people and places.”
RenewableUK’s deputy chief executive Melanie Onn:
“The Climate Change Committee is right to highlight the opportunity for the Government to show leadership ahead of COP26 by continuing to set out a bold, detailed and comprehensive plan in its new Net Zero Strategy, to be published later this year.
“The UK needs a more detailed road map to get to Net Zero, so the CCC is spot on in recommending that Ministers set clear, firm targets to ramp up onshore wind and solar deployment between now and 2030. We are confident that, with a few enabling actions, we could develop 30 gigawatts of onshore wind by 2030.
“Regular auctions for contracts to generate clean power and reforms to the planning system to empower communities to choose modern turbines are the keys to unlocking vital new projects, just as the CCC has identified.
“Delivering on climate change commitments must be put right at the heart of every Government department as a matter of urgency. This is a landmark year in what will be a decisive decade in taking action against the biggest threat to our way of life”.
Solar Energy UK chief executive Chris Hewett:
“Green NGOs, energy trade bodies, and now the Climate Change Committee are all calling for the Government to be ambitious around solar energy. We need to deploy this affordable, proven technology as fast as possible to ensure we can meet the clean power needs of a net zero economy. We will go faster with some timely interventions from Government.”