In November 2020, amidst a global pandemic, furlough schemes, Brexit discussions and more, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the government’s ambitious plan for the United Kingdom to lead the way in the green industrial revolution.
The Prime Minister stated that the UK government had not lost sight of its objectives to scale its climate action across the UK to ensure the protection of the environment and a sustainable future for this generation and the next. With the goal of reaching Net Zero by 2050, this plan will assist in the reduction of greenhouse gases throughout the UK. This also gives government almost a year to put measures in place before the COP26 Climate Summit that is to be held in Glasgow in November 2021.
Globally, we need to cut greenhouse gases in half in the next 10 years, and the UK has an important contribution to make to these targets, not least of which through leadership and setting of best practice. The Prime Minister intends to designate £12 billion of UK Government investment to generate as many as 250,000 highly skilled green jobs in the UK, and signal private sector investment of over £36 billion, to ensure government meets its 2030 target.
The plan targets the UK’s five historically industrial regions to trailblaze the UK’s shift towards a low carbon economy: Scotland, North East, Yorkshire & the Humber, West Midlands, and Wales.
What does the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan entail?
To ensure the success of this plan, the Prime Minister has indicated that government strives to promote the current ‘green’ strengths of the UK by developing, adapting, maintaining and supporting current and future technologies and resources to promote the best possible outcomes in achieving Net Zero by 2050. Hundreds of thousands of green jobs will also become available and supported through 10 different resource strengths that will be built upon in the coming years.
The Government’s 10 Point Plan
1 Offshore Wind
The UK pioneered the world’s first offshore windfarm in 1991 and now wind energy (onshore and offshore) has become the UK’s second largest source of electricity, providing more than one third of the UK’s power at 64TWh of energy across the island. It is cheaper than many other renewable energy sources, cleaner, more reliable and – between onshore and offshore production – more than 12 million households are supported by it. The investment into the offshore wind industry, in particular, is set to create more jobs in manufacturing, construction, operations and project development.
This plan aims to ensure that the UK produces enough offshore wind so that every household can be powered by it. The plan will be powered by the wind turbines of Scotland and the North East.
Currently the UK has 35 operational offshore wind farms, four in construction and five in development. By developing, maintaining and constructing these wind farms, the government hopes to produce up to 40GW of power by 2030, providing over 60,000 jobs.
This plan aims to generate low carbon hydrogen for industry, housing, and transport across the UK. The government aims to generate 5GW of capacity through current and new hydrogen production facilities by steam methane reforming from natural gas, which is currently the most widely used method of producing hydrogen in the UK.
Water is the only by-product of providing low carbon hydrogen unlike that of other natural gases, that, when burned, produce CO2 emissions. Also, the current pipes used to deliver natural gases to homes and public buildings across the UK can still be used to deliver the low carbon hydrogen, thus making it a cheaper and cleaner alternative.
The plan states that the government aims to generate enough low carbon hydrogen to power and heat an entire neighbourhood by 2023, a village by 2025 and a Hydrogen Town by 2030. Experts argue, however, that hydrogen cannot be used as a main source of energy in the UK because it is very expensive and not necessarily the best option when there are other more lucrative natural resources already available.
However, low carbon hydrogen fuel is also expected to fill the gap where energy efficiency and electrification of vehicles is not possible. This includes heavy-duty transport vehicles and long-distance haulers and shipping. There are currently 13 hydrogen filling stations across the UK and several more in their planning stages that support the greening of UK transportation.
The UK currently generates about 20% of its electricity from nuclear energy across 15 operational nuclear reactors in seven locations in the UK.
This plan aims to use nuclear energy as an alternative, clean energy source and develop small and advanced nuclear modular reactors that will support job creation for over 10,000 people.
4 Electric Vehicles
Choosing to run an electric vehicle will help save money and reduce the carbon footprint left behind. This plan aims to transform the current transport infrastructure of the UK to better support electric vehicles. Recently, the government and car industry confirmed that there will not be any further sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.
The North East, West Midlands and North Wales are current industrial areas that are spearheading the way forward in car manufacturing and it is the government’s hope that the manufacturing of more electric vehicles will be accelerated in these areas. Government will assist in the rollout of charge points across England in homes and public spaces to make charging of electric vehicles more accessible to citizens. The government will also financially incentivise citizens to buy zero or ultra-low emission vehicles in the coming years.
As electricity is becoming cleaner all the time, and the hope is that 80% of electricity will be produced by renewable energy by 2030, electric vehicles will become the primary mode of transport as they will run on renewable energy as opposed to fossil fuels.
5 Public Transport, Cycling and Walking
This plan aims to make zero-emission public transport, walking and cycling more attractive and easily accessible so to limit the number of non-electric vehicles on the road as well as to promote a greener and more active lifestyle for citizens.
The Road to Zero industrial policy is an important document that outlines the government’s plans to move towards cleaner road transport across the UK. The manufacturing and use of zero-emission buses (ZEBs), low emission buses (LEBs), Fuel Cell electric buses (FCEBs) or battery electric buses (BEBs) across urban spaces are vital to ensure a more sustainable transport system. This plan will help to tackle current and future urban air quality issues.
This transition needs to be industry, government and consumer led and the government aims to accelerate the adoption of fuel-efficient motoring by company car drivers, business operating fleets and private motorists.
6 Jet Zero and Greener Maritime
The maritime industry accounts for 95% of all UK trade and is a critical industry to lead the way in this new green industrial revolution. This plan aims to support industries that manufacture and use planes and ships in becoming greener and more conscious of the importance of decarbonising. Not only should the manufacturing processes of shipping vessels and planes become greener but, so too should the shipping ports and airports look to harness new green technologies to make the spaces more environmentally sustainable.
7 Homes and Public Buildings
This plan aims to encourage homes, hospitals, schools and other public buildings to become more eco conscious, decrease costs and adapt processes to ensure the greening of the space. The promotion of creating buildings that are warmer but more energy efficient is of paramount importance to ensure government meets their own targets of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.
Currently, domestic households account for a fifth of the UK’s carbon emissions through heating and power. With this being said, government has stated it aims to create and support 50,000 jobs including positions to install 600,000 electrical heat pumps (which are considered to use four times less power than gas central-heating) every year by 2028 to replace industrial boilers and improve insulation and energy storage.
8 Carbon Capture
This plan aims to capture 10MT of carbon dioxide by 2030 through the development of new technologies that are to capture and store harmful emissions. Currently, industrial Humber produces an equivalent of this emission amount. Investment will be made into funding the creation of two carbon capture clusters by mid-2020 and another two by 2030, providing support of 50,000 jobs.
The government has committed to protecting 30% of UK’s land by 2030 by ensuring the reversal of its biodiversity loss. This plan aims to plant over 30,000 hectares of trees every year while promoting the protection and sustainability of all natural environments through job creation and continued greening of urban and rural spaces. It also aims to restore 35,000 hectares of peatland.
The Prime Minister signed the Leaders Pledge for Nature at a virtual United Nations on 28th September 2020 to confirm the UK’s commitment to biodiversity and climate action but it is essential that government also works closely with private investors to ensure that this plan and commitment becomes a reality.
10 Innovation and Finance
London is currently amongst the premier venues for the provision of green services and it is the aim of this plan to make the City of London the global central leader for green finance, promoting the development of new cutting-edge technologies that are needed to achieve the energy ambitions of the UK. London did not invent the green finance sector but it has the opportunity to internationalise the sector as it attempts to attract global investors and “align its private sector financial flows with clean, sustainable and resilient growth” as green finance is central to the transition towards a green industrial revolution.
So what does this all mean?
The UK aims to become the leading country in climate change mitigation processes through transformational greening of how and where we do business. This 10 point plan is just a start to help us get to where we need to be to achieve a healthier, greener economy. Like the targets set at the inception of the Paris Agreement in 2015, we know that we will need to make improvements as we go along, but this is bold and ambitious statement focuses on reducing carbon emissions but also ensuring that future-proofed jobs are created to help the economy recover after the pandemic.
What can you do as a business?
iiE helps businesses of any size future proof their operations through sound environmental management and engagement principles. Here are areas your business can support this low carbon effort.
- Understand carbon-intensive areas of your business and set targets to reduce CO2e emissions. Typically, these are your energy use and transport. iiE membership can help coach you through this process.
- If you use suppliers, demand transparency from them and ask questions of who is supplying the goods, where are they getting their resources from and what impact this will have on the environment. You want to buy from environmentally and socially responsible suppliers and influence those who are early on in their journey.
- Incentivise employees to walk, or cycle to work where possible to reduce pollution and emissions from transport. Working from home will also help limit the number of cars on the road, traffic congestion and urban smog. Check out our guide to travel planning.
- Find out when your energy contract renews and plan to switch over to green energy tariffs. In the long run, it will save your business money and help the environment. Visit https://www.greenenergyswitch.co.uk/ to compare tariffs or find out more about our partner Ecotricity here: https://www.iie.uk.com/what-is-iie/iie-partners/
- Consider carbon removals for any emissions you are not yet able to avoid. iiE partners with Forest Carbon for net-zero planning; and members can discuss possible routes to carbon offsetting that work for your organisation’s social impact goals too.
The list could go on but it is important to make small, incremental changes to the way your business is run to ensure the future sustainability of the UK. Get in touch with iiE to find out more about how we can help your business become greener.
The iiE team would like to thank Ashleigh Edden for submitting this article.