UK government publishes net zero strategy

Business Minister Greg Hands says government’s strategy will support up to 440,000 jobs

Karim El-Bar   | 19.10.2021
UK government publishes net zero strategy


The British government published on Tuesday its strategy to hit net zero by 2050.

Business Minister Greg Hands, who is also in charge of energy policy, made the announcement in the House of Commons, stressing that the government’s strategy will support up to 440,000 jobs.

The announcement came ahead of the COP26 climate crisis summit in Glasgow that begins on Oct. 31.

Hands said the government’s plan was “not just an environmental transition, it represents an important economic change too”.

He added that by undergoing a green industrial revolution, the UK would “get to the front of the global race to go green”. The switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy will also “bring down costs down the line”, he said.

Hands continued in his statement to parliament: "We need to capitalise on this to ensure British industries and workers benefit."

"I can therefore announce that the strategy will support up to 440,000 jobs across sectors and across all parts of the UK in 2030," he said.

"There'll be more specialists in low carbon fuels in Northern Ireland and low carbon hydrogen in Sheffield.

"Electric vehicle battery production in the North East of England, engineers in Wales, green finance in London and offshore wind technicians in Scotland.

"This strategy will harness the power of the private sector, giving businesses and industry the certainty they need to invest and grow in the UK to make the UK home to new ambitious projects.

"The policies and spending brought forward in the strategy along with regulations will leverage up to £90 billion ($124.2 billion) of private investment by 2030 levelling up our former industrial heartlands."

- Fully decarbonizing power system by 2035

Among the proposals in the government’s strategy is the aim to fully decarbonize the power system by 2035, and for all heating appliances in homes and workplaces to be low carbon by the same date.

After 2035, the British government aims for no new gas boilers to be sold. To this end it will invest £450 million ($620.9 million) in a three-year Boiler Upgrade Scheme that will offer household grants for low-carbon heating system. It will also invest £60 million ($82.8 million) in the Heat Pump Ready program to help grow the electric heat pump market.

On nuclear power, the government will invest £120 million ($165.6 million) in small modular nuclear reactors, and to come to a decision on a large-scale nuclear plant by 2024.

The government also wants to generate 40GW of offshore wind by 2030, and by the same date reach 5GW of hydrogen production capacity – all while cutting oil and gas emissions by half.

The government will invest £620 million ($855 million) in zero emission vehicle grants with a view to ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. By 2030, the government also aims for half of all journeys in towns and cities to be cycled or walked with £2 billion ($2.8 billion) in investment.

The government will also invest £625 million ($862 million) in tree-planting.

A separate Treasury review published on Tuesday said that “the costs of global inaction significantly outweigh the costs of action" to tackle climate change.

It added, however, that it was not possible to forecast what the cost would be to individual households due to the net zero transition.

Greenpeace UK’s head of politics Rebecca Newsom was quoted by Sky News as saying the government’s proposals were “half-hearted” and “more like a pick and mix than the substantial meal that we need to reach net zero”.

"With just eight years left to halve global emissions, the government can't just keep dining out on its 'ambitious targets',” Newsom said.

“Until the policy and funding gaps are closed, Boris Johnson's plea to other countries to deliver on their promises at the global climate conference next month will be easy to ignore," she added.

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