Select Committee backs EI call for government action on net-zero

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The EI’s contribution to the policy debate about meeting the UK’s new 2050 net-zero target was brought to the fore twice during August, with the publications of policy recommendations from the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee and the new National Engineering Policy Centre. 

The Select Committee’s report ‘Clean Growth: Technologies for meeting the UK’s emissions reduction targets’, delivered a warning to ministers that current policy ‘inaction’ risks the UK not meeting its ambitious emission reduction targets. Many of the recommendations echoed those put to the committee by the EI and fellow engineering bodies in writing and in an oral evidence session in January by then EI President Malcolm Brinded, alongside UKERC and the Energy Systems Catapult.

Malcolm is quoted extensively in the report, notably making a robust argument for a system-based approach. ‘The work to understand how those options would play out in the real world with consumer resistance, behaviour, price signals and all the other demand-side management measures that might go with it,’ he said, ‘has to be done in the period to 2025 to understand which trajectory we should be on. It is not an issue of saying that it will be about hydrogen, electrification or hybrid; it is about really understanding how these will work at scale, and with the total system around them.’

The report also cites him pressing for greater focus on exporting low-carbon technologies to emerging economies which, he said, would draw on the UK’s strengths and ‘offer a huge opportunity to have much greater impact on climate change, probably at lower cost, than just continuing to drive down our own targets’.

The EI’s work on priorities for government policy and spending decisions also fed into a ‘manifesto’ published by the new National Engineering Policy Centre, based at the Royal Academy of Engineering and involving professional bodies representing in total 450,000 engineers. Intended to influence the current spending round being undertaken by the Treasury, the manifesto’s energy chapter contains encouragement to ministers to deliver on net-zero, in particular with investment in rolling out EV charging infrastructure, demonstrating large scale low carbon heat technologies and CCUS.

Visit the Select Committee’s report is at http://bit.ly/2PaJPCL

Visit National Engineering Policy Centre manifesto at http://bit.ly/2Huj0U6

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