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Living Up to the UK's Vision of a Green Industrial Revolution: Part 2

Mark Livingstone
Jan 28, 2021

Guidehouse Insights

This blog was coauthored by Tiange Wei and Artur Lenkowski.

The UK government recently published its Energy white paper: Powering our net zero future, which outlines its approach to the energy transition, reemphasising action items outlined previously in the prime minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. This long-awaited release (the previous document dates back to 2007) illuminates how the government aims to meet its legally binding net zero emissions target by 2050.

In a two-part blog series, Guidehouse is evaluating the key announcements made in the Ten Point Plan and associated documents. Our first blog presented points 1 through 5, covering offshore wind, low carbon hydrogen, advanced nuclear power, zero emissions vehicles, and green public transport. This blog evaluates the remaining five points including carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) and buildings.

The UK Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution

The UK Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution

(Source: Guidehouse)

Point 6: Jet Zero and Green Ships

Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) should be adopted as part of a post-pandemic green aviation recovery plan to accelerate the decarbonisation of the aviation sector. Leading practices and mandates need to be considered for deployment of biojets. SAF costs vary across projects, and financial support needs to be significantly increased.

Point 7: Greener Buildings

An ask more and give more approach where the government provides incentives while raising expectations is needed to meet this massive challenge. Regional authorities have been setting decarbonisation targets that are more aggressive than at the national level; coordination with central government needs improvement.

Point 8: Investing in CCUS

The government can get the ball rolling by providing support to mitigate the embedded CCUS risk related to the long-term risk of carbon leakage from sequestration. A robust investment case for CCUS needs to consider the economic outlook for industry (with the arrival of potential new industries and shutdown of existing ones).

Point 9: Protecting Our Natural Environment

Rewild programs are options to protect natural carbon sinks such as peatlands to restore existing habitats to absorb carbon. Along with creating new protected areas, protecting the existing landscapes should be prioritised.

Point 10: Green Finance and Innovation

The government’s role should be focused on de-risking emerging technologies and driving them towards maturity (green financing). The financial sector needs to align existing investment with the net zero goal (greening finance).

Now It Is Time to Implement

While the energy white paper confirms the UK government’s commitment to meeting its climate ambition, the challenge now lies in implementation. The plan promises £12 billion ($16 million) of government funding and intends to mobilise 3 times as much private investment, but it lacks the detail badly needed to kick-start action in crucial areas such as green buildings or sustainable transport. The paper does act as a signpost for upcoming publications over the next few months; further detail should follow in strategy documents focused on hydrogen, heat and buildings, transport, and industrial decarbonisation.

2021 is an important year for global climate diplomacy with the spotlight on the green recovery and long-term transition to net zero. The COP26 to be held in Glasgow will provide a platform for the UK to showcase its climate leadership. Right now, the UK must move from long-term planning and target-setting towards accelerated implementation across all economic sectors.