Does the UK Have a Plan? Ten Reasons for Optimism
Citing a marriage of economic success and environmental responsibility, the UK Government is framing its vision for a Green post-pandemic recovery around a Ten Point Plan.
In the movement to achieve net zero by 2050, the UK Government’s current Ten Point Plan is arguably just the first of several stepping-stones. Nonetheless, and regardless of your political affiliation, we should all understand the ten fronts of economic and technological innovation which the UK Government sees as key to triggering a Green Industrial Revolution.
#1 Advancing Offshore Wind
The UK already claims to generate more electricity from offshore wind than any other country, harnessing the windiest parts of our seas. The target is to increase the world’s first two floating offshore windfarms here in the UK twelvefold and to encourage a fresh £20 billion of private investment, driving the manufacture of larger, more powerful turbines. With a single turn of their blades, the latest wind turbines can generate enough electricity to power a house for more than 24 hours.
#2 Low Carbon Hydrogen
Hydrogen is one of the lightest and simplest chemical elements in our world. The hope is that it will provide a clean source of fuel and heat for both homes and industry. The UK is aiming for 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030.
#3 Advanced Nuclear Power
Demand for low-carbon electricity is set to rise across key sectors like transport and heat. Our electricity system could double in size by 2050 as a result. Value-for-money debates aside, the UK is committed to investigating large-scale new nuclear projects to produce low carbon power and job creation.
#4 Zero Emission Vehicles
The goal is to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, 10 years earlier than forecast, with all vehicles being required to have a significant zero emissions capability (e.g. plug-in and full hybrids) from 2030 and to be 100% zero emissions from 2035.
#5 Public Transport & Cycling
As well as decarbonizing private vehicles, the challenge is to increase the number of journeys taken by public transport, not to mention cycling and walking. The Ten Point Plan identifies £4.2 billion in city public transport including £120 million in 20201 to fuel the introduction of 4,000 zero emission buses.
#6 Jet Zero and Green Ships
2020 saw the first commercial aircraft take off. Moving to sustainable fuels is one of the key challenges facing the global travel industry. The UK has established a Jet Zero Council as a sector-wide partnership to research new technologies and promote their adoption.
#7 Greener Buildings
This has been tabled as one of the key pillars of the Ten Point Plan, transforming buildings to be more energy efficient and moving away from fossil fuel boilers. Innovation and education will be essential to ensure appliances are replaced with lower carbon and more efficient alternatives.
#8 Carbon Capture and Storage
Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage, or CCUS, refers to technology which captures carbon dioxide from power generation, low carbon hydrogen production and other industrial processes, preventing it from entering the atmosphere. It is hoped that new CCUS infrastructure will help to transform the UK’s original industrial regions. The ambition is to capture 10Mt of carbon dioxide per year by 2030 – the equivalent of taking some 4 million cars off the road.
#9 Protect Our Natural Environment
The natural environment is itself one of the world’s most effective solutions for capturing carbon long-term. It’s crucial to safeguard and restore wildlife habits and to combat biodiversity loss. The UK Government is arguing it will create more new National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, contributing to a target of protecting some 30% of UK land by 2030.
#10 Green Finance
The goal is to raise total R&D investment to 2.4% of GDP by 2027 and to bring down the cost of the net zero transition. A taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures will establish mandatory reporting of climate-related financial information by 2025 and implement a green taxonomy to define economic activities tackling climate change – the idea being to help better guide motivated Green investors.