On Tuesday, the British government unveiled the country’s strategy to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, something that stipulates supporting 440,000 new jobs over the next decade and “unlocking” £90 billion ($124 billion) in investments by 2030.
Scientists, green campaigners, and even the UK government’s own supporters have slammed the country’s newly-introduced Net Zero Strategy as a document that purportedly lacks ambition and is not supported by relevant funding.
Patrick Hall, senior research fellow from the conservative think tank Bright Blue, rejected the strategy’s blueprint for heat pumps as inadequate.
“In the tug of war between No 10 and BEIS [Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy] and the Treasury over funding, it appears as if the latter has won out, and we have been left with a plan which is a welcome start, but doesn’t yet meet the scale of the challenge”, he told The Guardian.
Hall apparently referred to the Treasury recently releasing the so-called Net Zero Review, which argued that the government would most likely lose tens of billions of pounds in revenues from fossil fuel taxes and face other risks from its green policies.
He said that under the Net Zero Strategy, the government’s stated aim is to install 600,000 heat pumps per year by 2028, “so the maximum of only 90,000 pumps to be covered over the next three years falls far too short. The funding simply isn’t sufficient”.
Kevin Anderson, a professor of energy and climate change at the University of Manchester, for his part, insisted that the Net Zero Strategy “falls far short of both its Paris and G7 temperature and equity commitments”.
“Scour the associated spreadsheets and the numbers reveal a story of subterfuge, delusion, offsetting, and piecemeal policies – all dressed up as a shiny new strategy for COP26”, he said, in a nod to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, which kicks off in Glasgow, Scotland, on 31 October.
The UK government was reportedly under pressure to publish the Net Zero Strategy ahead of the COP26 climate summit.
Rebecca Newsom, the head of politics at Greenpeace UK, in turn, described the document as “more like a pick and mix than the substantial meal that we need to reach net zero”.
“Extra cash for tree planting and progress on electric vehicles doesn’t make up for the lack of concrete plans to deliver renewables at scale, extra investment in public transport, or a firm commitment to end new oil and gas licenses”, she claimed.
Newsom accused the government of creating “only half-hearted policies and funding commitments to decarbonise our draughty homes at the speed necessary”. She asserted that the new strategy “fundamentally fails to grapple with the need to reduce our meat and dairy consumption to stop global deforestation”.
Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband has, meanwhile, bashed the strategy as a document that falls far short of what is required.
“The failure to invest does not just affect whether this transition is fair for consumers but also workers in existing industries. Take steel. It will cost £6 billion ($8 billion) for the steel industry to get to net zero in the next 15 years […] but there is nothing for steel in this document”, he pointed out.
UK Government’s Net Zero Strategy Unveiled
The comments come after the government unveiled a “landmark” strategy, which sets out “how the UK will secure 440,000 well-paid jobs and unlock £90 billion ($124 billion) in investment in 2030 on its path to ending its contribution to climate change by 2050″.
Investments will include an extra £350 million ($482 million) of the nation’s £1 billion ($1.3 billion) commitment to support the electrification of UK vehicles and their supply chains, plus another £620 million ($853 million) for targeted electric vehicle grants and infrastructure.
The Net Zero Strategy also stipulates injecting more sums into new technologies such as hydrogen and sustainable aviation fuel and £120 million ($165 million) towards at least one new nuclear power station.
The strategy is based on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ten-point plan, presented in November 2020, when BoJo announced the UK’s “green industrial revolution”, which he said aims to help the government “create, support, and protect hundreds of thousands of green jobs, whilst making strides towards net zero by 2050”.
Johnson stressed that “the green industrial revolution will be powered by the wind turbines of Scotland and the North East, propelled by the electric vehicles made in the Midlands, and advanced by the latest technologies developed in Wales” so that the country can “look ahead to a more prosperous, greener future”.