Log in | Register
15/12/2020

Government aims to cut emissions by 230 million metric tonnes

Words: Laura Edgar
Energy efficient homes / iStock-901093568

The government has outlined plans to transform the UK’s energy system from one based on fossil fuels to one that is ‘fit for a zero-carbon economy’.

This includes changing how homes are heated, how people travel, doubling electricity use and harnessing renewable energy supplies.

This is one of several core elements in the government’s energy white paper, which also seeks to support up to 220,000 British jobs.

It builds on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s 10-point plan for a green recovery from Covid-19.

The energy white paper sets out the steps the government plans to take over the next 10 years to cut emissions from industry, transport, and buildings by 230 million metric tonnes, which is equivalent to taking 7.5 million petrol cars off the road permanently.

In addition, the government wants to boost competition in the energy retail market to address the issue that long-standing customers pay more than new ones.

Energy secretary Alok Sharma said the government’s plan “establishes a decisive and permanent shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels, towards cleaner energy sources that will put our country at the forefront of the global green industrial revolution”.

Through a “major” programme of investment and reform, the government is “determined to both decarbonise our economy in the most cost-effective way, while creating new sunrise industries and revitalising our industrial heartlands that will support new green jobs for generations to come”.

“At every step of the way, we will place affordability and fairness at the heart of our reforms – unleashing a wave of competition so consumers get the best deals possible on their bills, while protecting the vulnerable and fuel poor with additional financial support.

“With this long-term plan, we are turning climate ambition into climate action – putting the UK firmly on the course to net-zero to end our contribution to climate change as we build back greener.”


Core parts of the energy white paper include:

  • Supporting up to 220,000 jobs in the next 10 years. This includes long-term jobs in major infrastructure projects for power generation, carbon-capture storage and hydrogen, as well as a major programme of retrofitting homes for improved energy efficiency and clean heat.
  • Transforming the UK’s energy system from one that was historically based on fossil fuels to one that is fit for a net-zero economy, changing how people heat their homes and travel, doubling electricity use, and harnessing renewable energy supplies.
  • Generating emission-free electricity by 2050 with a trajectory that will see the UK have overwhelmingly decarbonised power in the 2030s. Low-carbon electricity will be a key enabler of the transition to a net-zero economy with demand expected to double due to transport and low-carbon heat.
  • Establishing a UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) from 1 January 2021 to replace the current EU ETS at the end of the transition period. It increases ambition on reducing emissions, and provides continuation of emissions trading for UK businesses and certainty on how they operate.
  • Delivering ambitious electricity commitments through the government’s commitment to deliver 40GW of offshore wind by 2030, including 1GW of floating wind, enough to power every home in the country – while attracting new offshore wind manufacturers to the UK.
  • Investing £1 billion in carbon-capture storage in four industrial clusters by 2030 – sucking carbon out of industrial processes to stop emissions escaping to the air.
  • Kick-starting the hydrogen economy by working with industry to aim for 5GW of production by 2030, backed up by a new £240 million net-zero Hydrogen Fund for low-carbon hydrogen production.
  • Investing £1.3 billion to accelerate the roll-out of charge points for electric vehicles in homes, streets and on motorways as well as up to £1 billion to support the electrification of cars, including for the mass production of the batteries needed for electric vehicles. It will support economic growth across the UK – including strong manufacturing bases in the Midlands and the North East – while supporting the 169,000 jobs in our world-leading automotive sector.
  • Supporting North Sea oil and gas transition for the people and communities most affected by the move away from oil and gas production, ensuring that the expertise of the oil and gas sector be drawn on in developing carbon capture and storage and hydrogen production to provide new green jobs.

Alongside the publication of the energy white paper, the government confirmed that it will start negotiations with EDF about the Sizewell C project in Suffolk. The government is considering its options to enable investment in at least one nuclear power station by the end of this Parliament.

Negotiations will be subject to reaching a value-for-money deal and all other relevant approvals, before any final decision is taken on whether to proceed.

RenewableUK’s head of policy and regulation Rebecca Williams said the energy white paper “provides clear visibility on how the UK can ramp up decarbonisation across a wide range of sectors”. We’re pleased to see the white paper describes onshore and offshore wind as key building blocks for the future generation mix, and that it highlights the need for sustained growth in these industries to reach net-zero. Innovative floating wind will also play a major role in this.

“We hope the series of wide-ranging consultations will speed up our work building the high renewable net-zero electricity system this country needs. This includes fine-tuning Contracts for Differences to ensure they continue to offer best value for money for consumers while accelerating the growth of the UK renewables supply chain. CfDs have successfully delivered massive cost reductions, making renewables our cheapest new power sources, and our members are working tirelessly to maximise supply chain opportunities for companies throughout the country.

“Ministers have taken on board a number of our policy recommendations, including the need to reform Ofgem with a consultation on the regulator’s strategy and policy, which we hope will ensure it puts net-zero at the heart of its decision-making process as soon as possible.”

A series of consultations have been published alongside the energy white paper, which can be found on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy website.

Energy White Paper: Powering Our Net Zero Future can be found here.

Image credit | iStock

Tags