News & Analysis

UK's new net zero plan criticised as lacklustre

31st March 2023
Kristian McCann

The UK government’s new plan to reach net zero was released this week to severe criticisms and litigious mummering’s as campaigners dub the revision ‘lacklustre’. This new, revised plan comes following a High Court case which ruled the government’s legally-binding carbon commitments were not being met with their previous strategy 

The Powering up Britain’ plan highlights how key parts of the strategy is the announcementof the UK's first carbon capture sites in Teesside. These sites take carbon dioxide produced during the burning of fossil fuels like gas and store them in deep caverns under the North Sea. It is hoped this could remove up to 50% of the emissions from the country's industry. Ministers have claimed the plan also aims to lower people's energy bills, although as a long-term goal. 

Yet scientists say even this new plan will not move the UK closer towards meeting its legally-binding carbon commitments.Carbon capture technology has long been heralded by companies and governments as an antidote to climate change. This is when emissions, produced by a factory, are absorbed before they are released into the atmosphere. But the method is extremely expensive and cannot deliver zero emissions, according to campaigners, and will distract on government delivering on renewable energy. 

Friends of the Earth who were part of the team who brought the legal case against the last plan  said their disappointment in the new plan’s details may see them taking the government back to the High Court again. 

Industry has taken an equally stern stance to some of the details revealed in the new plan. The government wants all of the UK's electricity tocome from clean sources by 2035, yet there was little attention paid to some of the issues with connecting new renewables to the power grid. 

Today’s announcement highlights why we are seeing a lack of progress from the UK government around climate changewe need more education, more incentives, and more investments,” said Head ofSoftware AG NadeemMalik says. “But a large issue is the ability to understand where change is needed to deliver the most impactful result. 

Frustration is also being levied at the fact that there is no apparent significant increase in funding for home insulation, as heating in homes currently accounts for 14% of UK emissions. The governmenthad previously announced a new £1bn scheme to improve insulation in UK homes to come into effect in April 2023, but it was equally derided as insufficient. 

“To drive real solutions, we need more public-private cooperation to learn from previous successes and the key to understanding the full problem is gathering the right kinds of data. Recent research found that data integration is the technology that has the most positive impact on sustainability initiatives so we know that businesses can use data to inform key business decisions. We need to be taking what we’ve learnt and utilising it to help fight climate change,” Malik concludes. 

The government have conceded their new net zero strategy will fail to cut greenhouse gas emissions enough to hit its own legally enforceable targets, delivering only 92% of the emission reductions needed to meet the UK’s 2030 goal. 

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