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Net zero: a ‘historic opportunity’

UK could do more to reap economic benefits of green growth, finds Net Zero Review
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Net zero: a ‘historic opportunity’

The UK’s leadership on tackling climate change has delivered real change at home and led to a global transformation – but more should be done to reap the economic benefits that presents, Chris Skidmore says today (13 Jan).

Mission Zero, his Net Zero Review, makes 129 recommendations covering areas including the greater role that business can be supported to play, making better use of infrastructure and delivering more energy efficient homes.

‘When one of the governing party’s own MPs says tackling the climate crisis is the economic opportunity of the century, may we hope that ministers will finally listen?

‘We have all seen what our dependence on fossil fuels is doing to our world – from devastating floods and heatwaves to budget-busting energy bills. Moving away from this destructive energy system is not just necessary and possible – it’s also a great economic opportunity.

‘Those who want to slow down climate action are the equivalent of 19th-century canal owners urging caution over the new-fangled railways. A 100% renewable energy system and climate-friendly food production are feasible and cost-effective so we should stop faffing about and get on with it.’

Greenpeace UK’s policy director

UK’s economic advantage

Each of Chris Skidmore’s recommendation is designed to maximise economic investment, opportunities and jobs – all while working towards achieving legally binding targets to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

He urges ministers to grasp the ‘historic opportunity’, highlighting how the government’s Net Zero Strategy offers the right direction and the right policies.

‘We should be proud of the lead the UK has taken in tackling climate change, having exceeded expectations so far in our race to net zero emissions by 2050. As essential as that is environmentally, it also puts us at an economic advantage globally.

‘We lead in areas including clean technologies, science, manufacturing and green finance – areas that, if managed right, can lead to new jobs and strong economic growth.

‘In developing this report, we have engaged with communities, economists and climate experts from across the country through more than 50 roundtables and 1800 submissions – all of which have led to the Mission Zero findings.

‘My recommendations are designed to make the most of this historic opportunity, covering the length and breadth of our economy, so that people in every part of the country can reap the benefits of this both in their communities, and in their pockets.’

Chair of the Net Zero Review

Net Zero Review proposals

Chris Skidmore’s proposals include backing business by reviewing incentives for investment in decarbonisation, including via the tax system, and launching a Help to Grow Green campaign offering information and advice to small businesses so they can plan ahead.

Proposed reforms to the planning system would back local action to put net zero at its heart nationally and locally, and back at least one Trailblazer Net Zero City, local authority and community that can work towards reaching net zero by 2030.

The review proposes the delivery of energy-efficient homes, including legislation for the Future Homes Standard so that no new homes will be built with a gas boiler from 2025, and adopting a 10-year mission to make heat pumps a widespread technology in the UK.

Underscoring how infrastructure can be used to unlock net zero, Chris Skidmore proposes the development of a cross-sectoral infrastructure strategy by 2025 to support the building and adaptation for new green energy sources such as hydrogen to support the green economy.

‘This comprehensive review shows the grass is greener with net zero. Not only is it good for the climate, nature and our health, but it’s the key to our future prosperity. It’s concerning that the UK Government has been stop-start in its policies and implementation plans for net zero across renewable energy, food and farming and economic security – at a time we’ve never needed it more.

‘WWF now urges the Government to take on the Review’s recommendations and deliver on its promise to meet the net zero target with a clear strategy – helping not only the planet, but families struggling through a cost-of-living crisis.’

Chief executive of WWF

A green opportunity

Official statistics show there are already around 400,000 jobs in low carbon businesses and their supply chains across the UK, with turnover estimated at £41.2 billion in 2020.

Both the British Energy Security Strategy and Net Zero Strategy aim to leverage an additional and unprecedented £100 billion of private investment, while supporting an additional 480,000 British jobs by 2030.

‘With a wealth of talent and expertise, and a track record to be proud of, the UK is well placed to ensure that tackling climate change also brings new jobs and investment for businesses and communities.

‘I am grateful to Chris Skidmore – the man who signed our climate commitments into law – for his detailed report today, which offers a range of ideas and innovations for us to consider as we work to grasp the opportunities from green growth.’

Business and Energy Secretary

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