Another big push towards electric vehicles was made in the UK government’s latest strategy to make the big shift to a virtually zero-carbon economy.
Ministers are investing £ 620 million in grants for electric vehicles and road charging points.
Car manufacturers will be forced to sell a percentage of clean vehicles every year.
An extra £ 350 million is pledged to help the automotive supply chain go electric.
The new plan developed by the government it should drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to reach a net zero target by 2050.
The announcement comes 12 days before global leaders meet in Glasgow to negotiate how to curb climate change.
Hitting net zero means the UK will no longer add to the total amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
- What is net zero and how is the UK doing?
Without action on climate change, the world faces a warmer planet, rising sea levels and extreme weather conditions that threaten many life forms.
The UK has already made progress in reducing emissions from levels released in 1990. In 2019, the country released 40% less than in 1990.
The government also announced a strategy to address emissions from the UK’s 30 million buildings on Tuesday.
Homeowners will be able to apply for grants of up to £ 5,000 to install low carbon heat pumps to replace gas boilers.
Ed Miliband of the Labor Party responded to the strategy, stating that “the plans are not up to par” adding “we have been waiting months for a strategy for heating and buildings, it is a big disappointment”.
Automotive group AA welcomed the news on electric cars and the increase in charging points. AA President Edmund King said, “The AA supports steps towards net zero and believes incentives for electric vehicles can help us along that path.”
What does the net zero plan say?
It also offers an additional £ 120 million for the development of SMR, small ‘modular’ nuclear reactors that can be built in factories. These could go to the Wylfa site in Wales, although that is not certain.
These mini-reactors are heavily promoted by Rolls Royce, although critics say the technology won’t be mature in time to meet the UK’s carbon targets.
On the big nuclear: there has been a lot of speculation about a green light for Sizewell C in Suffolk. But funding has been a key sticking point and it looks like an announcement has been postponed to the Chancellor’s spending review next week.
There will also be £ 625 million more for tree planting and peat restoration, although the current program lags far behind its targets.
The government is pledging £ 140 million into two clusters promoting carbon capture and storage to produce hydrogen. The hubs will be the North West of England and North Wales, with Teeside and Humberside: the government has previously pledged £ 1 billion to support CCS.
Heavy industries in these areas will be powered by hydrogen separated from natural gas. The resulting CO2 emissions will be pumped into underwater rocks for storage.
This will be controversial because environmentalists believe that hydrogen should be obtained through electrolysis instead, using excess wind energy.
It seems unlikely that much hydrogen remains to heat people’s homes, which is why the government is postponing any decisions on hydrogen boilers to 2026.
Ministers are keen to underline their intention that the so-called net zero transition will be business driven.
They say it will create 440,000 jobs and attract up to 90 billion in private investment by 2030.
The government says that since the Prime Minister announced his 10-point climate plan a year ago, it has invested £ 26 billion of public funds in the low-carbon revolution.
Part of that portfolio will be an extra £ 500 million fund for low carbon innovation.
Environmentalists will look at the numbers to see if the various recent political announcements will add to the policy portfolio needed to present a plausible plan for decarbonising the economy by 2050.
So what is missing from the strategy? Well, there is no reference to the consumption of less meat, which according to government advisers is necessary. And the aviation strategy, which does not impose any constraints on flight, is contrary to the opinions of the consultants.
The COP26 world climate summit in Glasgow in November is seen as crucial if climate change is to be kept under control. Nearly 200 countries are being asked for their plans to reduce emissions and this could lead to major changes in our daily lives.
- Why the COP26 climate summit is important
- Simple guide to climate change
- What will climate change be like for you?
- Will the UK meet its climate targets?
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