A Look At The Government’s Clean Growth Strategy
As part of a commitment to reduce Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions, the government has introduced the Clean Growth Strategy which outlines the proposed approach to building a lower-carbon future.
The comprehensive document, compiled by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), is available to download here. However, don’t worry if you don’t have time to read all 165 pages because we have summarised the strategy’s key points, and what they mean for our homes and businesses.
What is the UK’s commitment to climate change?
To start with, it’s useful to know the background legislation that brought about the Clean Growth Strategy.
The Climate Change Act was introduced in the UK in 2008 and this made the nation the first worldwide to self-impose a legally binding carbon reduction target. The crux of it? To reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels).
Are we close to meeting our target?
Simply put, yes. The good news is that figures published by BEIS in March 2017 revealed that the UK is well on its way to meeting this target, with our overall carbon emissions having dropped by an impressive 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 like the Clean Growth Strategy come in.
How can the Clean Growth Strategy help?
The policies and proposals that have been set out in the Clean Growth Strategy are targeting an acceleration of ‘clean growth’ in two ways: by decreasing emissions, and by increasing economic growth. With that in mind, the two guiding objectives underpinning the strategy are:
To meet our 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 make this vision a reality, the government has agreed to carry out lower-carbon processes, systems and technologies nationwide – doing so in the most cost-effective way possible for businesses and homes alike.
What are the key proposals of the Clean Growth Strategy?
There are six key areas which the proposals focus on and together they are responsible for all the UK’s carbon emissions:
Improving business and industry efficiency (25% of UK emissions)
Improving our 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 our natural resources (15% of UK emissions)
Leading the public sector (2% of UK emissions)
What does the strategy mean for homes and businesses?
It essentially means that the government will encourage and support homes, businesses and industrial operations to minimise their carbon footprint in a number of ways. A major focus will be reassessing the fuels we use for jobs like heating, cooking, and powering industrial and manufacturing processes – and embracing cleaner, greener alternatives.
This not only means boosting uptake of renewable technologies, including solar panels and heat pumps, in the long term, but also favouring cleaner conventional fuels over more polluting ones. For example, for off-grid homes and businesses, the strategy sets out specific plans to phase out high-carbon forms of fossil fuels like 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 country.
It’s clear that natural gas will stay a popular choice for buildings that are connected to the mains network thanks to its affordability and accessibility and because it is the lowest-carbon fossil fuel available. Flogas, which specialises in gas installation, expects to see this part of its business continue to go from strength to strength.
The company has been an expert in the energy sector for over 30 years and predicts that the ‘green gas’ phenomenon (natural gas injected with a proportion of environmentally friendly biogas) will grow in popularity as the Clean Growth Strategy rolls out.
Key reactions to the Clean Growth Strategy
Key industry figures have been supportive following the Clean Growth Strategy’s unveiling.
Lee Gannon, Managing Director of Flogas, 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.”
Trade body Oil & Gas UK also supports the strategy. Mike Tholen, its Upstream Policy Director, commented: “Oil & Gas UK welcomes the government’s commitment to technology in the strategy, especially with regards 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.”