What other countries can learn from the UK’s Clean Growth Strategy
The UK’s plan for a greener future sets an example for other countries, especially the US, writes Jamie Roberts.
As part of the UK’s commitment to reducing its carbon dioxide emissions, the government has launched the Clean Growth Strategy, a plan for a greener future for Britain which other countries could learn from. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has produced a document outlining the plan, which can be found in full here. But, at 165 pages, it is an extensive read, so the key points are condensed below.
What has led the UK to adopt the strategy?
The launch of the strategy is not the first step that Britain has taken to reduce its CO2 emissions. In 2008, the UK introduced the Climate Change Act, and through this became the first nation in the world to self-impose a legally binding carbon reduction target. The crux of the act was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 compared with 1990 levels.
How close is the UK to meeting its target?
In March 2017, BEIS released data that showed the UK was making good progress towards its target. Carbon emissions have reduced overall by 42% since 1990. While this progress is encouraging, the government acknowledges that there is still plenty more work to be done – and that’s where proposals such as the Clean Growth Strategy come in.
What will the Clean Growth Strategy accomplish?
The strategy’s proposals and policies have been created to increase the rate of clean growth, by both reducing emissions and increasing economic growth for the country. With that in mind, the two guiding objectives underpinning the strategy are:
- To meet domestic commitments at the lowest possible net cost to UK taxpayers, consumers and businesses
- To maximise the social and economic benefits for the UK from this transition
To achieve these goals, the government has promised to introduce lower-carbon systems, technologies, and process across the whole of Britain. They plan to do so in the most cost-effective way they can for both homes and businesses.
What are the key proposals of the Clean Growth Strategy?
There are six main areas of focus. Combined, they account for 100% of the UK's carbon footprint:
- Improving business and industry efficiency (25% of UK emissions)
- Improving British homes (13% of UK emissions)
- Accelerating the shift to low-carbon transport (24% of UK emissions)
- Delivering clean, smart, flexible power (21% of UK emissions)
- Enhancing the benefits and value of natural resources (15% of UK emissions)
- Leading the public sector (2% of UK emissions)
The full list of 50 pledges can be found in this executive summary.
How will the proposals affect UK homes and businesses?
These proposals mean that Britain's businesses and homes will be supported by their government to work together for a better, greener future. A significant focus will be reassessing the fuels used for jobs such as heating, cooking, and powering industrial and manufacturing processes – and embracing cleaner, greener alternatives.
This reassessment means the UK will need to look to the long-term plan, picking cleaner fuels over polluting ones, and making use of renewable sources such as biomass boilers and solar panels. For example, for off-grid homes and businesses, the strategy sets out specific plans to phase out high-carbon forms of fossil fuels such as oil. As the lowest-carbon conventional off-grid fuel, oil to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) conversions will play a key part in replacing oil in rural parts of the UK.
Natural gas is likely to remain a top choice for buildings in Britain that are connected to the mains network, owing to its affordability and accessibility. Natural gas is also the lowest-carbon fossil fuel available. It is likely to grow in popularity even further as the Clean Growth Strategy is implemented.
How has the UK reacted to the news?
Industry professionals have already responded to the UK's Clean Growth Strategy.
Lee Gannon, managing director of a UK gas company, said: “Through the publication of its Clean Growth Strategy, the government has made clear its intention to reduce carbon emissions from off-grid UK homes and businesses. Natural gas is affordable, versatile, widely available and – most importantly – emits significantly less carbon than the likes of coal and oil. As such, it will continue to play a central role as the UK works towards cleaning up its energy landscape. We look forward to working alongside policymakers and wider industry stakeholders, to make the Clean Growth Strategy the success that it deserves to be.”
Mike Tholen, an upstream policy director, said: “Oil & Gas UK welcomes the government’s commitment to technology in the strategy, especially with regard to carbon abatement measures such as carbon capture, usage and storage. Oil & Gas UK looks forward to working with the government to see how these technologies can further reduce emissions across the economy.”
Jamie Roberts is a writer on behalf of gas solutions supplier Flogas