As we transition our energy system to net zero, it is vital that we do so in a way that delivers benefits for people, businesses and communities. This is something that Regen has long strived towards – from working with cities and regions to identify local investment opportunities, to ensuring communities reap the rewards of renewable energy developments.
The UK government’s Net Zero Review is an invaluable opportunity to ensure policymakers fully grasp the social and economic opportunities to be gained from delivering on our net zero target, and to demonstrate why the UK should be rushing to be a global leader in the clean energy transition.
At first glance, a ‘review’ of net zero could be perceived as a means for those in the ‘sceptic’ camp to pick holes in the target and push back against progress. But the reality is that anyone looking objectively at the UK’s net zero target will find it extremely difficult to conclude that leading the world to a zero-carbon future is anything but the right move. This review is a vital opportunity to convince all parts of the Tory party.
That green champion Chris Skidmore MP is leading the review is also hugely positive. He has vowed that it will be carried out from a place of unwavering commitment to net zero:
“There will be no rowing back on any of the targets that have been set out by government. Instead, there is an opportunity to reframe them not as a challenge or a burden to people but to make the positive case for change through creating new incentives to achieve that change.” (Skidmore speaking at Business Green’s Net Zero Festival)
Making the positive case for change should be easy. We already have plenty of examples where the UK is spearheading the growth of new sectors, attracting investment in clean technologies, and developing skills and expertise that can be exported to other countries – whilst creating inward investment and future-proofing jobs for communities that need them most.
Doubling down on net zero will only grow these opportunities. For example, Regen has highlighted the social and economic opportunities to be reaped from the development of floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea, as well as from being a first mover in the clean maritime propulsion market.
These opportunities will only be unlocked with the right policy, but there are plenty of areas where the government could make quick progress. Regen’s response to the Net Zero Review highlights 13 ‘quick wins’ to accelerate deployment of renewable energy and storage, rapidly increase investment in network infrastructure, scale up energy efficiency and heat pump markets, and support innovative technologies like floating offshore wind.
That clean energy is a growth story is certain. But, in writing this story we must take care to ensure a just transition in which those who are already disadvantaged are not left in a worse position – or better still, can benefit directly in the process.
Right now, that means prioritising a massive uplift in energy efficiency to help tackle fuel poverty, reduce emissions and bills, and improve health and wellbeing all at once. It also means enabling local people to directly benefit from renewable energy projects in their area, ensuring that access to new energy products and market services is open to everyone – and that those massive potential benefits of the transition are distributed fairly.
Luckily, these solutions don’t mean compromise. There is no-trade off between delivering net zero and the UK’s economic goals; they are two sides of the same coin. By driving forward action on net zero, the UK has the opportunity to secure a competitive advantage, spur investment, and grow the economy – ensuring the UK’s long-term prosperity whilst bringing down costs and improving lives for people now.
Our call to action is for the clean energy sector to step up and show that action towards net zero is not just action for a cleaner environment – it is action for healthier, more resilient communities and a stronger, fairer economy. This is an opportunity to chart a course towards a future where everyone benefits and everyone can thrive.
- Regen’s response to the Net Zero Review can be viewed here.
- For more information, please contact: Estelle Limon, Policy and Impact Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org