Mission Zero is a recently published independent report, led by Chris Skidmore, which describes the policies the UK should follow to achieve carbon-zero targets.
These policies to deliver a zero-carbon future for the UK are as follows:
- Cleaner, greener homes: Provide certainty by 2024 on the new and replacement gas boiler phase-out date to drive industry and investor confidence.
- Bring forward all consultations and work to mandate the Future Homes Standard by 2025: to prevent further delays by ensuring [the] standard applies to all developments. This should include a consultation on mandating new homes to be built with solar and deliver the Net Zero Homes Standard, ensuring that the planning system is flexible enough to enable this.
- Non-domestic energy efficiency: Legislate by 2025 the minimum energy efficiency rating to EPC B for all non-domestic buildings, both rented and owned, by 2030. Legislate for EPC B rating for all new non-domestic buildings from 2025.
- Stable environment for business to plan and invest: Conduct and publish, before Autumn 2023, a review of how we should change regulation for emerging net zero technologies to enable their rapid and safe introduction, to support the net zero transition and boost growth.
- Stable environment for business to plan and invest: By the end of 2023, HMT (The Treasury) should review how policy incentivises investment in decarbonisation, including via the tax system and capital allowances.
- Through their update to the Green Finance Strategy: BEIS and HMT should set out a clear, robust and ambitious approach to disclosure, standard setting, and scaling up green finance.
- A new forum to coordinate across all regulators: on the signals they are sending to businesses and investors across sectors about the net zero transition.
- At the next Spending Review: review options for providing longer-term certainty to a small number of major priorities for net zero.
- Stable environment for business to plan and invest: Publish an overarching financing strategy covering how existing and future government spending, policies, and regulation will scale up private finance to deliver the UK’s net zero enabled growth and energy security ambitions.
- Carbon capture: In 2023, the government must act quickly to re-envisage and implement a clear CCUS roadmap, showing the plan beyond 2030.
- Accelerating renewables: Set up taskforce and deployment roadmaps in 2023 for solar to reach up to 70GW by 2035 and onshore wind to reach required deployment levels for 2035 net zero grid.
- Hydrogen: By the end of 2023, develop and implement an ambitious and pragmatic ‘10 year’ delivery roadmap for the scaling up of hydrogen production.
- Nuclear: Implement reforms set out in the British Energy Security Strategy to double down on achieving the UK’s nuclear base load requirement.
- Empowering consumers: Ofgem should maintain focus on a timely implementation of its market-wide half-hourly settlement.
- Transport : swift delivery of ZEV mandate to apply from 2024 while maintaining regulations and funding to support EV/ZEV uptake and continuing to drive emission reductions from internal combustion engines.
- Food, agriculture and nature: Publish a Land Use framework as soon as possible, and by mid-2023.
- Circular Economy: Launch a task force to work jointly with industry to identify barriers and enablers and develop sector-specific circular economy business models for priority sectors.
- Oil and Gas: Publish an offshore industries integrated strategy by the end of 2024 which should include roles and responsibilities for electrification of oil and gas infrastructure. Accelerate the end to routine flaring from 2030 to 2025.
- Local and regional: Reform the local planning system and the National Planning Policy Framework now.
- Individuals: Publish a public engagement plan for England by 2023, to ramp up public engagement on net zero.
- International Conduct: a strategic review of the UK’s international climate leadership and ensure the 2030 Strategic Framework on Climate and Nature provides practical direction for the UK’s international climate and nature leadership.
- Carbon Markets: By 2024, work within the UK ETS Authority to develop a pathway for the UK ETS until 2040.
- Research & Development: By Autumn 2023, create a roadmap which details decision points for developing and deploying R&D and technologies that are critical for enabling the net zero pathway to 2050.
Show me the ‘money tree’!
How do we do all this without crippling the economy, or funding widespread fraud? Experience shows us that the Civil Service are not efficient distributors of cash. Do you remember ‘Ash for Cash’ and the ‘Green Deal’?
So how should the UK ‘Invest in Planet Earth’?
Mission Zero talks about the UK Investment Bank (UKIB), British Business Bank (BBB), British International Investment (BII), Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) and UK Export Finance (UKEF), as well as those in the devolved nations such as the Scottish National Investment Bank and Development Bank of Wales.
All fine, but we need something local, which sorts out the scallywags and rogues from the climate saints, this is where a network of Banks of Dave come in.
You might recall my essay on Dave’s bank in Burnley (‘You can bank on Dave’). These are locally based investment banks, which could monitor and sell loans to small businesses and residents, with the installation and upkeep delivered through trusted local installers, Community Interest Companies (CICs), local energy saving trusts, and charities.
The big projects can be managed by the big institutions that Mission Zero outlined, but we need local micromanagement for local micro projects.
We should also break the hold of the energy giants, whose activities www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-63773595 have varied from anti-competitive to egregious during the energy crisis. Consumer confidence in the energy suppliers is not unbounded.
Mass insulation, widespread micro generation, and control of the supply infrastructure for gas, water, electricity, and broadband, is a prerequisite to reducing energy poverty, ensuring that new forms of clean energy generation are not constrained by connections to the national grid, and keeping energy price inflation in check.
A timely report
In conclusion: Mission Zero is a timely report, but it relies too much on big institutions to move at pace and, with the best will in the world, they don’t. Private finance, if it’s left to the usual suspects, will greenwash rather than invest in green ventures, the lure of fossil fuels is so very strong. See recent issue of the Ethical Consumer on where to put your savings and pension money for ethical green investment.
The public, through education, information, and sometimes exhortation, should be given carefully curated guidance and good advice, before they spend money on PV cells, heat pumps or any other tech. To do that, the government needs to spend money on what economists call the supply side of the economy.
Where are the technicians, when you need them?
Let’s take heat pumps. There is a lot of disinformation about how good or bad they are. The public mostly want to do the right thing but they don’t want to purchase a lemon. To get that advice they need reliable, well-trained installers or technicians, who will probably advise on preliminary work, such as improved insulation, larger radiators, and where best to install the heat pump, air sourced or otherwise. Some energy suppliers are doing good work in this field, but they can only carry on if they have the technicians.
This is where the under-resourced further education sector comes in. Government can receive a ‘better bang for its buck’ by spending on green technology training courses at every FE College, than Green Deal schemes which fail because of a dearth of trained technicians.
In short, Mission Zero is a great scoping report, but let’s get on and get the basics right at ground level.