Guernsey Press

UK must seize ‘economic opportunity’ of net zero, political parties urged

Parties warned slowing move to net zero could lose UK billions, put the country at global disadvantage and risk exposure to future gas price spikes.


Speeding up the shift to “net zero” could boost the UK economy by billions – while slowing it down will hit families, political parties have been warned.

As politicians seek to draw dividing lines on the move to end the UK’s contribution to climate change by cutting greenhouse gases to zero overall by 2050, known as net zero, industry and experts are warning of the need to accelerate the transition.

It could deliver a boost to the economy, protect households from future gas price spikes – and is needed to keep the UK in the race for investment in an increasingly competitive world, as well as tackle climate change, they argue.

The warnings come as parties line up to launch their election manifestos – with Labour putting more ambitious action on clean energy at the heart of its offer, while the Conservatives have delayed climate measures and claimed opposition net zero plans could push up bills.

But slowing progress would have the opposite effect, Energy UK warned, with previous attempts at removing green policies such as cutting insulation funding adding £9.8 billion to energy bills in 2022/23.

Continued reliance on gas would leave the UK much more exposed to future potential gas spikes while helping households to switch to electric heating and better insulate their homes protects them from such rises, Energy UK said.

Emma Pinchbeck, chief executive of Energy UK, said: “Failure to meet net zero will impose greater costs on UK taxpayers than the investments required to do so.”

“A fair transition will improve lives and livelihoods; warmer schools and hospitals can improve experiences and save money by saving energy, cleaner transport reduces the associated pollution costs to the NHS.

“Boosting our domestic clean energy generation alongside a rapid roll-out of energy-efficiency measures will make the UK more resilient to global energy price shocks, and bring stability to energy bills.”

And she added: “We have seen the cost of slowing progress. We know what we need to do.

“History will not be kind to politicians too short-sighted to grasp these opportunities.”

Climate and energy experts also urged the next government to take greater action on net zero to address the crisis and boost the economy.

He said: “The next government will preside over a critical five years in which the winners of the economic opportunity of the century – the net-zero economy – may well be decided,” adding the US, EU and China were racing to secure the benefits of rapidly growing green markets.

The UK must establish a comprehensive plan for a thriving low-carbon industrial base, playing to strengths in clean tech, renewables, advanced manufacturing and services, he said, adding: “Without this, there is a risk the UK is left behind in a state of economic stagnation and widening inequality.”

He added the next government must restore the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles to 2030, as the Conservative delay to 2035 had undermined investor confidence and put the UK at a competitive disadvantage.

And the next government “absolutely” had to stop providing new licences for new oil and gas fields, coupled with stronger action to help oil and gas workers move into the zero carbon economy – such as free training, he said.

“More British renewables and insulating homes so they waste less heat will ensure the country is less at the mercy of the gas markets that made many people’s bills unaffordable over the past two years.”

He said the new government must ensure a successful auction for new offshore wind farms later this year, fix the planning system, roll out heat pumps and give small businesses the confidence they need to expand the workforce for insulating homes.

He also warned the next administration needed to work out how it was going to attract investment in an increasingly competitive global environment, pointing out the UK’s £74 billion net zero economy grew last year by 9% amid otherwise stagnant growth.

“The new government won’t want to risk that stalling,” he said.

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