As the country braces itself for the general election on the 12 December, Energy UK has released its manifesto to provide policy guidance for the next government.
The trade body has outlined investment in low carbon generation, the EV rollout, energy efficiency, building standards and ensuring a fair transition as the key areas the new government must focus on to achieve net zero.
Climate change is at the top of the media and political agenda according to Energy UK chief executive, Lawrence Slade. “With the net zero target in place, policies to enable a huge and unprecedented transformation right across our economy must head the next government’s programme of action.
“Our sector has helped the UK lead the way in reducing emissions but rather than sit back and admire our work, we need to go further and faster without any delay if we are to meet this huge but unavoidable challenge. We believe that net-zero is not just achievable but can bring huge benefits to the environment, the economy and our customers.”
The manifesto highlights some of the energy sector's achievements in recent years, not least reducing its CO2 emissions by 62% since 2008, which has been a major contributing factor in reducing the UK's overall emissions.
“The energy industry has shown how it can deliver and will play a crucial role in transforming other sectors like transport and heating as well as our own. So we stand ready to work together with the next government - but time is not on our side and we need words and aspirations to be backed up with positive action and policies,” said Slade.
Key action points include the creation of a fully funded National Energy Efficiency Programme, alongside policies to facilitate the creation of an ‘able to pay’ market.
“One major - and popular step - the next Government could take is to finally get serious about energy efficiency. The installation of domestic energy efficiency measures has gone backwards in recent years despite the clear evidence of how these can reduce both emissions and bills. Committing to a national energy efficiency programme would therefore deliver swift rewards and there could be no better way of showing just how net-zero can benefit us all,” Slade continued.
The manifesto dictates a number of further areas, including becoming a world leader in carbon capture and storage, developing a credible and achievable policy framework for post-2020 to complete the smart meter roll-out, and developing a robust carbon price.
The smart meter roll-out was the topic of a Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy select committee hearing earlier this week, where Ofgem's executive director of consumers and markets, Mary Starks, said the regulator stands ready to "take tough action" on suppliers "if they have fallen short” of smart meter goals.
The final point in Energy UK's manifesto warns that close relationships will be needed, post-Brexit, in order to meet net zero targets.
“It is essential the UK energy industry maintains a close relationship with the EU in order to keep bills down for customers and continue to work with the EU to tackle climate change.”
The manifesto comes after Energy UK called on the government to implement a ‘net zero test’ in September, by which all new policies would have to be tested to ensure they support the goal.