Four years ago, the UK became the first major economy in the world to pass laws to commit to reducing all greenhouse gas emission to net zero by 2050.
Since then, the UK has been acknowledged as a climate change leader on the world stage – though recently Prime Minister’s Rishi Sunak’s government has been accused of backsliding on action on climate change on net zero.
Despite this, the transition to a net-zero economy is a huge opportunity for the UK in its role as a climate leader from an economic, social and environmental perspective. But when it comes to UK government policy, what are the key challenges that need to be urgently addressed in order to enable this transition?
- Strengthening Policy Frameworks: Building upon the existing foundation, it’s vital for the next government to harness every government lever through a robust and comprehensive policy framework that aligns with global climate targets. This would ensure there is a joined up approach across all levels of government. US President, Joe Biden has been doing this across the US government through his “all-hands-on-deck” strategy for accelerating clean energy technology innovations.
- Green Infrastructure Investment: By bolstering the country’s infrastructure, the UK government will not only accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy but also create new employment opportunities and stimulate economic growth. Investments in research and development will additionally further drive innovation, allowing the UK to become a global hub for clean technologies and solutions.
- Electrifying transportation: Electric Vehicles (EVs) are already being widely adopted which compliments the expansion of charging infrastructure and incentives for EV ownership. With a focus on electrification, the UK can help to transform the way we move, reducing emissions from the transport sector and improve air quality in communities.
- Decarbonising Energy: The UK is actively transitioning away from fossil fuels and is scaling up decarbonising energy policies. By accelerating the shift to clean energy sources, the UK will reduce its reliance on carbon-intensive fuels and significantly curb greenhouse gas emissions. It is essential for the government to continue to support offshore and onshore wind, solar, and hydroelectric power, as well as exploring emerging technologies including tidal and wave energy.
- Fostering Collaboration: The UK government recognises the importance of aligning goals, sharing expertise and pooling resources between the public and private sector. By leveraging the potential of technology, we can accelerate the journey to net zero through a ‘twin track’ digital and green transition.
Climate change and net zero will be key issues at next year’s 2024 UK general election. With both the Conservatives and Labour Party vying to communicate to voters how they aim to net zero, the above policy areas will all require attention, energy and resource from the next government, if we are to achieve net zero emissions.
Fourtold recently hosted former net zero and UK Net Zero Review author Chris Skidmore MP to discuss the current UK government’s green policy; business’s role in the road to net zero; how next year’s election could affect policymaking; and the future of UK net zero policy more generally. To read the summary of our roundtable click here.