Why we need a low-carbon recovery
CBI members view the COVID-19 recovery as a real opportunity to do things differently, by delivering the benefits of a low-carbon transition fairly around the country. Warmer, energy and water efficient homes that are cheaper to run; cleaner air with more zero emission vehicles that can be charged and fueled easily around the country; hubs of industry capturing and storing CO2, and increasing supplies of low-cost decarbonised electricity from nuclear to wind farms and even negative emissions from biomass with carbon capture, all connected to a flexible grid. The 2020s remain a critical decade for delivering this vision and getting us on track to achieve net-zero emissions.
Why the urgency?
Bold decisions need to be taken now to drive the recovery and get us on track for net-zero emissions by 2050. Over a year has passed since the setting of the net-zero target, and the UK must progress plans to decarbonise the economy. Meanwhile, the opportunity to deliver sustainable jobs across the country must be taken as we go through a period of economic uncertainty and job losses.
Despite some positive announcements seen over recent months, we still lack clear policy frameworks needed for the transition to net-zero, with notable delays to the Energy White Paper and National Infrastructure Strategy. There is a clear urgency for publishing these documents, alongside other sector strategies, such as the Decarbonisation of Transport Plan and Heat and Buildings Strategy. The Budget and Comprehensive Spending Review are also key milestones for setting out clear fiscal support where needed, alongside predictable market and policy frameworks that can help create a positive investment environment. We have an opportunity to be a world leader in a range of technologies like carbon capture and hydrogen, but only if we act now.
What are we calling for?
To ensure that the 2020s continue to be a decade of delivery on net-zero, there needs to be step-change in the pace of investment, supported by a government commitment to drive delivery. Delays to policy and regulatory decisions that hold back investment both act as barriers to this goal. Action taken now will not only set us on a path to net-zero, but will also help secure the thousands of jobs that can be secured through investment in low-carbon technologies and services. Bold decisions are needed, with opportunities at hand to remove regulatory barriers and speed up planning processes.
In particular, we are calling for government action to:
- Accelerate the construction of low-carbon electricity generation and investment in system flexibility
- Accelerate the delivery of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and supporting demand side measures, alongside investments in connected and autonomous technologies
- Deliver jobs and energy savings by retrofitting homes and buildings to be more energy efficient and switch to low-carbon heating
- Become a world leader in Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) technology
- Kick-start the development of a hydrogen economy
- Support the UK’s aviation sector in the development of sustainable aviation fuels.
This is an opportunity for the UK to take a global lead
As we look towards COP26, we must lead by example, showcasing the UK as a place to invest, and as a leader in the technologies of the future, building on our scientific, academic and industrial heritage. Progress needs to be made on the sector roadmaps that will contribute to a whole economy net-zero strategy, which should be in place ahead of the UN climate conference. Markets and regulatory frameworks that deliver investment, supported by policy frameworks that provide clear targets and regulatory standards. Other countries can learn from our successes, and we must be ready to have a dialogue so that we can learn from each other.