COP26’s race to zero begins

EIC highlights the key points made in COP26 President Alok Sharma’s speech, which symbolised the beginning of the organisations ‘Race to Zero’ campaign, and how business leaders can take a poll position despite the starting gun having already been fired.

Mapping the future

News that the UK will postpone its hosting of the UN climate change conference (COP26) was not unexpected, given the necessity for social distancing that COVID-19 has imposed, however it did raise concerns over the UK’s determination to enact a green recovery post-lockdown.

While the UK track record may, in part, justify some of these concerns, individual safety is not the only benefit of such a delay to talks, for one the nations taking part will need a clear idea of the state of their respective economies once lockdown ends before committing to new policy. 

And from a psychological perspective it might be argued that due to the all-consuming nature of the pandemic when it comes to public and government attention, the conference would not receive the attention necessary if it went ahead this year.

How far we’ve come

Despite the conference now being slated for Q4 2021 (-12 November), Alok Sharma gave a speech last Friday that reasserted the UK’s ambitions and responsibilities with regards to the 2050 net zero target and how the race to zero was already hastening its completion.

The UK, in collaboration with Chile and the U.N., are already leaders of the Climate Ambition Alliance – representing over half of global GDP – however Sharma insisted in his speech that “…we must go further”.

Sharma outlined some of the UK’s major achievements in reducing carbon emissions in the last thirty years:

  • Since 1990 the UK economy has grown by 75% while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions by 43%
  • In the same time, the UK has two offshore wind turbines able to power 2,000 homes, as of 2020 the UK is leading nation for offshore wind capacity
  • Globally, the cost of solar and wind power have dropped by 85% and 49% respectively
  • Over two thirds of the worlds nations can now generate renewable energy cheaper than coal

While details of the path forward remain scant – not surprising given the reasons for postponement – Sharma made it clear that liberating capital to fund green initiatives and widespread support for electric vehicles would be crucial to the UNFCCC’s success.

Approximately 1,000 business leaders, representing revenue totalling in excess £3.5tn have committed to the scheme including British motor giant Rolls Royce. According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC, around 75% of these businesses have already developed strategies and targets aligned with the 2050 target.

Dr. Alison Doig, international lead at the ECIU (Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit) recently commented on the danger of complacency in the opening stages of such a race. 

“This is not, however, about pushing climate action to some date in the future; no entity can reach net-zero in 2050 without starting now… participants will have to present delivery plans, including setting interim targets for the next decade, by the time COP26 opens in Glasgow next year.”

Clean energy was the first element of the British economy that Sharma cited when referring to the need for green growth after lockdown, making it a pressing issue for business leaders looking to get a head start on net zero. EIC provides comprehensive  support and advice to businesses in the procurement, management and generation of alternative energy sources. Each service forms an element of the robust energy management service that EIC offers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

General Election 2019 – A focus on energy and climate change

As the date of the General Election nears, there is little doubt that the focus is how the results will affect Brexit. However, as shown by polling carried out by YouGov, electoral concern for the environment is at an all-time high. 25% of voters place it as one of their top three issues facing the country today. This is up from 8% before the 2017 general election. A separate poll by Ipsos found 71% of people believe protecting the environment should be a priority, even if it slows economic growth.

This trend has been reflected in the released manifestos. Each party recognises the climate emergency and is dedicating space to energy and the environment.

Conservatives

The Conservative Manifesto

The Conservative party would maintain their current energy tariff cap policy. It also intends to introduce measures to lower energy bills further. In this effect, there would be a £9.2 billion investment in improving the energy efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals. The party would also support the creation of more environmentally friendly homes.

They state that their first Budget would prioritise the environment with investment in decarbonisation schemes, electric vehicle infrastructure and clean energy. They would also consult on the earliest date they believe appropriate to begin phasing out sales of new petrol and diesel cars.

There are aims to increase the capacity of the offshore wind industry from it’s current 8.5GW to 40GW by 2030. They would also help introduce new floating wind farms. Alongside development of renewables, the Conservatives would also support gas for hydrogen production and nuclear energy.

The moratorium on fracking in England would remain in place. This is unless the Conservatives believe there is scientific evidence that the practice can be carried out safely.

Further investment would include a £1 billion fund to develop “affordable and accessible clean energy”. £800 million to build the first fully-deployed carbon capture storage cluster. There would also be £500 million to help energy-intensive industries transition towards low-carbon technologies.

You can read the full manifesto here

Labour

The Labour Manifesto

The Labour party has committed to a ‘Green New Deal’. The aim is to achieve the majority of required emissions reduction by 2030.

Labour would create a Sustainable Investment Board, involving the oversight of the Chancellor, Business Secretary and Bank of England Governor. They would co-ordinate with trade unions and businesses to deliver investment to necessary areas. The Office of Budget Responsibility would be asked to incorporate climate and environmental impacts into its forecasts so as to properly evaluate decisions made.

They would also seek to bring the energy and water systems into public ownership. They believe this would allow the acceleration and co-ordination needed to upgrade networks at the speed and scale needed to transition to a low-carbon economy.

Labour’s plans would see:

  • A new UK National Energy Agency responsible for the national grid infrastructure and the oversight of the country’s decarbonisation targets.
  • Fourteen new Regional Energy Agencies to replace the existing District Network Operators (DNOs) responsible for decarbonising electricity and heat.
  • The supply arms of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies would be brought into public ownership to continue to supply households while helping consumers reduce their energy demands.

As part of Labour’s ‘National Transformation Fund’ £250 billion would be dedicated to investment in renewable and low-carbon energy and transport, biodiversity and environmental restoration.

Labour aims to deliver nearly 90% of electricity and 50% of heat from renewable and low-carbon sources by 2030. To this effect they would build 7,000 new offshore wind turbines, (this equates to around 52GW) 2,000 new onshore turbines, “enough solar panels to cover 22,000 football pitches” (roughly 157km2) and new nuclear power. Labour would also trial and expand on tidal energy and invest in hydrogen production.

The party will aim to upgrade almost all of the UK’s 27 million homes to the highest energy efficiency standards. They state that this would reduce the average household energy bill by £417 per year by 2030. It also aims to tackle fuel poverty. All new homes would be required to meet a zero-carbon homes standard.

The Labour party would introduce a Climate and Environment Emergency Bill to set out new binding standards for decarbonisation and environmental quality. In addition, they would introduce a new Clean Air Act in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) limits for fine particles and nitrous oxides. The party would aim to end new sales of conventional petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.

You can read the full manifesto here

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrat Manifesto

If elected, the Liberal Democrats would immediately implement a ten-year emergency programme designed to cut emissions substantially. They would then phase out emissions from remaining hard-to-treat sectors by 2045 at the latest.

The party has identified that their first priorities upon entering government would be:

  • An emergency programme to insulate all Britain’s homes by 2030, cutting emissions and fuel bills and ending fuel poverty.
  • Investing in renewable power so that at least 80 per cent of UK electricity is generated from renewables by 2030 – and banning fracking for good.
  • Protecting nature and the countryside, tackling biodiversity loss and planting 60 million trees a year to absorb carbon, protect wildlife and improve health.
  • Investing in public transport, electrifying Britain’s railways and ensuring that all new cars are electric by 2030.

Specifically, they would aim to accelerate the deployment of renewable power, providing more funding and removing the current government’s restrictions on solar and wind and building more interconnectors to improve security of supply. The party aims to reach at least 80% renewable electricity in the UK by 2030.

The Liberal Democrats would also seek to cut energy bills and reduce fuel poverty by providing retrofits for low-income homes to improve energy efficiency standards. They would introduce a zero-carbon standard to all new homes and non-domestic buildings by 2021. The party would also increase minimum energy efficiency standards for rented properties.

There would be a focus on investment in carbon capture and storage facilities and support to companies on cutting emissions. The party would also pass a new Clean Air Act, based on WHO guidelines.

You can read the full manifesto here

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