Former UK Energy Minister Chris Skidmore’s Net Zero Review, outlining opportunities offered by net zero, has been broadly welcomed by sustainability professionals.
Mission Zero, Skidmore’s Net Zero Review, makes 129 recommendations covering areas including the greater role that business can be supported to play, making better use of infrastructure and delivering more energy efficient homes. Every one is designed to maximise economic investment, opportunities and jobs all while working towards achieving legally binding targets to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“The review’s recommendations are wide-ranging and offer a welcome glimpse into future policy choices that will shape eventual legislation,” said Rob Doepel, managing partner UK & Ireland at EY Sustainability. “It’s encouraging to see the consistent emphasis on the significant opportunity that Net Zero offers to the country and to businesses.”
The UK is well-placed to emerge as a global green superpower, but the window to achieve this is closing rapidly, Doepel believes. “The review’s insights now need to be developed into detailed policy and firm, costed commitments in the Government’s updated Net Zero strategy.”
“The opportunity for the UK to lead the way on Net Zero will not come for free and the need for investment comes at a time when there are competing priorities for public funds,” Doepel said, adding that to achieve its goals the Government must accelerate the mobilisation of private sector capital to ensure the UK invests in Net Zero and can finance the large scale infrastructure projects needed.
Recommendations include establishing taskforces for solar, onshore and offshore wind, as well calls to align government, regulators and industry to create accelerated deployment roadmaps and greater regulatory integration. “These steps should help to reduce much of the red tape that has accumulated across many years of incremental policy and regulation; doing so will be crucial in rapidly accelerating our national energy transition,” Doepel said. “The call to streamline the planning and environmental permitting processes is also welcome, although this is not the first time such a recommendation has been made.”
The recommendation to establish an Office for Net Zero Delivery is welcome given the natural breadth of decarbonisation policy development,” Doepel said. “To date, a range of Net Zero policy has been explored and developed across many government departments, which has sometimes slowed progress. A central office would provide the catalyst for the Net Zero ‘big bang’ the review calls for and a coordinated policy approach would help unlock many of the review’s significant recommendations, from developing a new, comprehensive framework for infrastructure delivery to working with local communities to deploy solar and onshore wind facilities.”
The Review reaffirms the key role that business will play in the UK’s Net Zero journey and highlights the pioneering work the Transition Plan Taskforce is carrying out as UK listed companies prepare to disclose more detailed transition plans. “We welcome the recommendation that the TPT standards be made mandatory for both listed and private companies to ensure comparable disclosure standards across the economy,” Doepel said.
“Companies that move first with credible and comprehensive transition strategies will gain a tangible head start on their competition, although time is running out to enjoy first mover advantages. Many of the businesses we work with view Net Zero as an opportunity, but success will require world-leading talent, innovative new technology and fresh partnerships.”