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18/11/2020

Johnson sets out his 10 point plan for a green revolution

Words: Laura Edgar
10 point plan / Shutterstock_1193635258

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out his £12 billion 10 point plan for a green recovery from Covid-19, including more offshore wind capacity, cleaner public transport and carbon capture and storage.

This follows his plans to create national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) to protect England’s ‘iconic landscapes’, which The Planner reported on Monday (16 November). An additional £40 million will be invested into the government's Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

Writing in the Financial Times today (18 November), Johnson asked readers to "imagine Britain, when a Green Industrial Revolution has helped to level up the country".

"You cook breakfast using hydrogen power before getting in your electric car, having charged it overnight from batteries made in the Midlands. Around you the air is cleaner; trucks, trains, ships and planes run on hydrogen or synthetic fuel.

"British towns and regions — Teeside, Port Talbot, Merseyside and Mansfield — are now synonymous with green technology and jobs. This is where Britain’s ability to make hydrogen and capture carbon pioneered the decarbonisation of transport, industry and power."

The prime minister said his 10 point plan sets out how this will be achieved.

Government investment totalling £12 billion, and "potentially three times as much" from the private sector will create and support up to 250,000 green jobs. The plan will turn the UK into the "world’s number one centre for green technology and finance, creating the foundations for decades of economic growth," claimed Johnson.

The 10 point plan is as follows:

  1. Make the UK the Saudi Arabia of wind with enough offshore capacity to power every home by 2030.
  2. Turn water into energy with up to £500 million of investment in hydrogen.
  3. Take forward plans for new nuclear power, from large scale to small and advanced modular reactors.
  4. Invest more than £2.8 billion in electric vehicles, lacing the land with charging points and creating long-lasting batteries in UK gigafactories. Johnson said this will end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans in 2030. However, the sale of hybrid cars and vans that can drive a significant distance with no carbon coming out of the tailpipe will be allowed until 2035.
  5. Cleaner public transport, including thousands of green buses and hundreds of miles of new cycle lanes.
  6. Strive to repeat the feat of Jack Alcock and Teddie Brown, who achieved the first nonstop transatlantic flight a century ago, with a zero emission plane. The same goes for ships.
  7. Invest £1 billion next year to make homes, schools and hospitals greener, and energy bills lower.
  8. Establish a new world-leading industry in carbon capture and storage, backed by £1 billion of government investment for clusters across the North, Wales and Scotland.
  9. Harness nature’s ability to absorb carbon by planting 30,000 hectares of trees every year by 2025 and re-wilding 30,000 football pitches worth of countryside.
  10. A £1 billion energy innovation fund to help commercialise new low-carbon technologies, like the world’s first liquid air battery being developed in Trafford The City of London will turned into a global centre for green finance through a sovereign bond, carbon offsets markets and disclosure requirements.

Johnson wants this to be a template for the world to deliver net zero emissions. He plans to establish a task force for reaching net zero by 2050.

"Green and growth can go hand-in-hand. So let us meet the most enduring threat to our planet with one of the most innovative and ambitious programmes of job-creation we have known," he concluded.


Reaction:

The RTPI noted that "only by investing in local authority planning teams would a localised framework be established to ensure investment is properly integrated into the built and natural environment".

Chief executive Victoria Hills said: “We welcome the move to bring forward the switch to electric vehicles from 2035 to 2030 but in order to do this successfully we need to first look at a shift to more sustainable behaviours by reducing overall travel demand and increasing the use of sustainable travel.

“The RTPI’s forthcoming report on place-based solutions to net-zero carbon transport will consider a variety of potential options such as increasing density, restricting car use, promoting mixed development and mobility hubs, and creating integrated active and public transport networks.

“As our progress towards net zero carbon reshapes the built environment, it is only with effective spatial planning that we can ensure that benefits are maximised and that the transition is just, leaving no one behind.”

Specifically on point seven, the RTPI stressed that the retrofit of existing buildings, largely unaddressed to date, would be a major challenge. It suggests a national retrofit strategy that includes measures to support the private rental sector and a stronger regulatory framework, with powers and resources for local authorities, is needed.

RenewableUK's deputy chief executive Melanie Onn said the 10 point plan is a "vital" step forward. "The UK’s success in wind power puts us in a prime position to be a global leader across a whole suite of clean-tech industries, from electric vehicles to renewable hydrogen, where we can create new UK supply chains to export our goods and expertise around the world.   

"Offshore wind is set to become the backbone of the UK’s electricity system, providing over a third of our power by 2030, and we can rapidly develop green hydrogen to decarbonise shipping, aviation and industry. The prime minister’s new 2030 hydrogen target is a vital signal to investors and the market, and we will work with Government to ensure our world-leading renewable hydrogen technologies play a full part in meeting that target."

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), commented: “The extension of the Green Homes Grant for another year is very positive news, and shows that builders’ concerns have been listened to. This will give the reassurance needed to the building industry to invest in the scheme. However, the green revolution needs to be more ambitious about the built environment if the government is serious about creating a low carbon economy.”

“Our existing homes contribute 20 per cent of all our carbon emissions and consume 35 per cent of our energy. A long term retrofit strategy is needed over the next two decades to make all our existing homes more energy efficient. Such a strategy has the potential to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and save the NHS as much as £2 billion because of the cost of people living in poor housing conditions.”

Hannah Vickers, chief executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) which represents the companies who design, deliver and manage national infrastructure, said: “This 10 point plan is recognition that in order to meet society’s net zero aspirations, we need tangible action. We can only ‘build back better’ from Covid-19 if our growth is cleaner and greener.

“Proposals to turn London into a green financial centre are both welcome and necessary to supporting net zero ambitions, but giving local government the resilience and confidence to make carbon free investments is arguably more important.

“The positive announcements on carbon capture/storage, hydrogen, nuclear, and offshore wind are areas we championed in our comprehensive spending review representation. However, doing all this in parallel, and at the same time as decarbonising our existing building stock, remains a huge challenge and we need to see the rapid implementation of these plans.”

Friends of the Earth’s head of policy Mike Childs said the plan includes some positive commitments but "falls far short of the ambitious policy overhaul needed to demonstrate real global leadership on the climate crisis".

“A much bolder approach is needed if the UK is to create the hundreds of thousands of new green jobs and other benefits that building a cleaner, safer future will bring.

“While the phase-out of petrol and diesel cars and the pledge to build a much larger offshore wind industry are very welcome, the government must also encourage the development of onshore wind and commit to ending gas-fired heating in our homes. Without a much swifter switch to heat pumps the UK’s carbon commitments may not be met."


Read more:

Johnson wants to create more national parks


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