Department for Energy Security and Net Zero “manifesto for the future”.
The document was drawn up after the High Court ruled the government’s existing plans were not sufficient to meet its climate targets. A central plank of the strategy is to store CO2 under the North Sea. But scientists say even this plan will not move the UK closer towards meeting its legally-binding carbon commitments.
The government was forced to publish this “Powering up Britain” strategy after the High Court judged last July that its current plan was not detailed enough to show how the UK would meet its goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
Academics and green groups are unconvinced it will make enough difference.
Dr Chris Jones, an expert in climate change at the University of Manchester, said: “This latest government energy strategy is a weak response to the UK’s zero-carbon energy needs.
“The regressive measures on fossil fuels won’t make any real impact on our bills and energy security, but they are enough to downgrade the UK’s role as a leader in tackling climate change.”
Friends of the Earth – who were part of the team who brought the legal case against the last plan – said they may have to go back to the High Court.
“With these policies looking dangerously lacklustre and lacking on climate action, we are poised to act if ministers have fallen short once again,” said Mike Childs, head of policy at campaign group Friends of the Earth.
Last year the UKCCC – the government’s independent advisers on climate change – said there was a “shocking gap” in policy for better insulated homes, and were expecting the government to respond to those concerns in this report.
Dr Paul Balcombe, senior lecturer in chemical engineering and renewable energy at Queen Mary University of London, said: “The most sustainable way to be low carbon and increase security is to reduce our energy demand: the stated intention of insulating 300,000 out of [more than] 20 million homes is clearly insufficient when we have such a poorly insulated housing stock.”
Introduction – Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps:
As the Prime Minister set out at COP27, ‘there can be no solution to climate
change without protecting and restoring nature’.
One of the foundation stones of thriving economies is access to cheap, abundant and reliable energy. We rely on it to power our homes, our infrastructure, and industry. Affordable and plentiful energy also makes businesses more competitive, generating growth, jobs and prosperity. And it keeps the cost of living down.
When Putin invaded Ukraine in February 2022, it exposed mainland Europe’s overdependence on Russian gas. Despite the UK having very little direct exposure to Russian gas, we have all seen the consequence of his war in our bills.
Since the end of February 2022, average wholesale gas and electricity prices have been over three times higher than their average over the preceding four years. Economies have slowed or contracted, inflation has risen, and household energy bills have soared across much of the western world. As a nation, we have stood firmly by the side of Ukraine and will continue to do so. We also stood firmly on the side of families across the UK paying around half of the average household’s energy bills over winter and around half of the wholesale energy costs for some businesses.
However, our collective battle against Putin relies on us transitioning ourselves away from his expensive oil and gas and providing British energy for British homes. That is why energy security is one of this Government’s greatest priorities – and why the Prime Minister created the new Department for Energy Security and Net Zero in February.
After decades of reliance on imported fossil fuels, the new department’s mission is to replace them with cheaper, cleaner, domestic sources of energy. We will be powered by renewables including wind and solar, hydrogen, power with carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) and new nuclear plants – while recognising the vital role that UK oil and gas will play in the transition. This will make us much more energy independent, to protect us from volatile international energy markets, while underpinning our clean energy transition, so the UK becomes a net zero economy by 2050. It will also help us make sure the UK has among the cheapest wholesale electricity prices in Europe by 2035.
Energy security and net zero are two sides of the same coin. We already have the right strategic approach, and we need to double down on delivery. The energy transition in line with net zero is one of the greatest economic opportunities for this country and we are committed to ensuring that the UK takes advantage of its early mover status. Rapid deployment of low-carbon electricity will enable a systemic transformation across the economy working with technologies across the system to deliver cheaper, more secure energy.
Further, global action to mitigate climate change is essential to long-term Powering Up Britain 6 prosperity – the overall costs and risks of global warming are estimated to be equivalent to losing between 5% and 20% of global GDP each year.
The Government has set out a clear and consistent set of strategic objectives and a long-term policy framework. From the Energy White Paper in 2020 through the Net Zero Strategy in 2021 and in last year’s British Energy Security Strategy. Our policies are backed by targeted government funding which, together with the policies set out in this package of documents, will leverage around £100 billion of private investment over the period to 2030, and our ambitions will support up to 480,000 jobs in 2030.
We are in a strong position to drive the energy transition ourselves. Between 1990 and 2021, we have cut our emissions by 48%, decarbonising faster than any other G7 country, whilst growing the economy by 65%. We are already in the top three countries within Europe over the past 5 years for clean energy investment in a transition that will see an opportunity worth £1 trillion for British businesses in low-carbon products and services by 2030.
Much of the technology is being developed here, and we have a strong and supportive business environment. This paper sets out how the government will enhance our country’s energy security, seize the economic opportunities of the transition, and deliver on our net zero commitments. To meet this ambition, the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero will deliver:
1. Energy security: setting the UK on a path to greater energy independence.
2. Consumer security: bringing bills down, and keeping them affordable, and making wholesale electricity prices among the cheapest in Europe.
3. Climate security: supporting industry to move away from expensive and dirty fossil fuels.
4. Economic security: playing our part in reducing inflation and boosting growth, delivering high skilled jobs for the future.
Achieving these objectives will support us to meet the Prime Minister’s priorities, in particular, to halve inflation and get our economy growing, to build a strong, stable and prosperous future, thereby reducing debt in the medium term, for our country.
Here is the full ‘manifesto’
Department for Energy Security and Net Zero “manifesto for the future”.