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UK government unveils net zero strategy

The UK government has unveiled its Net Zero Strategy setting out how the UK will deliver on its commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Building on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s
10-point plan for a green industrial revolution, the new strategy provides a comprehensive economy-wide plan for how UK businesses and consumers will be supported in making the transition to clean energy and green technology – lowering the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels by investing in sustainable clean energy in the UK, reducing the risk of high and volatile prices in the future and strengthening the country’s energy security.

The commitments made will unlock up to £90bn of private investment by 2030, and support 440,000 well-paid jobs in green industries in 2030, according to the government. ‘This will provide certainty to businesses to support the UK in gaining a competitive edge in the latest low carbon technologies – from heat pumps to electric vehicles (EVs) – and in developing thriving green industries in our industrial heartlands – from carbon capture to hydrogen, backed by new funding,’ it says.

As part of the strategy, new investment announced includes:

  • An extra £350mn to support the electrification of UK vehicles and their supply chains and another £620mn for targeted EV grants and infrastructure, particularly local on-street residential charge points, with plans to put thousands more zero emission cars and vans onto UK roads through a zero emission vehicle mandate.
  • Enabling the delivery of 10% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030, including £180mn in funding to support the development of UK SAF plants.
  • A £140mn Industrial and Hydrogen Revenue Support scheme to accelerate industrial carbon capture and hydrogen, bridging the gap between industrial energy costs from gas and hydrogen and helping green hydrogen projects get off the ground. Two carbon capture clusters – Hynet Cluster in North-West England and North Wales and the East Coast Cluster in Teesside and the Humber – are to receive £1bn funding, aimed at putting ‘the UK’s industrial heartlands at the forefront of this technology in the 2020s and revitalise industries in the North Sea’.
  • An extra £500mn towards innovation projects to develop green technologies that will decarbonise homes, industries, agriculture and the power sector, bringing total funding for net zero research and innovation to at least £1.5bn.
  • £3.9bn of new funding for decarbonising heat and buildings, including a new £450mn three-year Boiler Upgrade Scheme, under which homeowners will be able to apply for grants of up to £5,000 to install low-carbon heat pumps to replace gas boilers.
  • Enabling Fund in order to help support plans to decarbonise the UK’s electricity system by 2035.

The Net Zero strategy announcement came just a few weeks before the UN COP26 climate change meeting in Glasgow. Responding to the announcement, some industry commentators and environmentalists claimed the strategy fell well short of what is needed to halt the climate crisis, saying it lacked details and was over-cautious.

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