King’s speech takes UK off course for net zero future

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In the wake of the King’s Speech on the 7th November, the first in 70 years, we once again found a government turning its back on net zero and a ‘green’ king less than enthusiastic about the introduction of a bill to support future oil and gas drilling in the North Sea.  There was nothing about fuel poverty and nothing about the need to reduce energy demands.  With sky-high energy bills and another winter of discontent faced by millions of households, where was the coherent plan to decarbonise our homes and ramp up investment in energy saving measures?

In the aftermath, former energy minister and MP Chris Skidmore, a high profile net-zero advocate, refused to vote for the King’s Speech, saying he doesn’t support new oil and gas licensing as it’s not needed for ‘environmental’ or ‘economic’ reasons.  Skidmore, who led a government commissioned review on net zero, stresses that reducing demand is key to delivering effective energy security.  His report Mission Zero – Independent Review of Net Zero, published in January 2023, made 129 recommendations which included the need to decarbonise both existing and new build homes through energy efficiency measures such as better insulation.

The undermining of green policies and the failure to act now is leaving people out in the cold and is a missed opportunity of the huge economic value of delivering net zero. With each passing month of inaction from the government, the harder it will be to achieve net-zero targets. Industry, business and commerce not only needs policy certainty, but also consistent and reliable frameworks.  Government is there to provide the framework for the rest of us to operate and if that framework is unclear, or is constantly changing, then we become reluctant to expend the resources for those initiatives.

The climate clock continues to tick, as the need for immediate and sweeping action becomes ever more pressing. It is crucial for the government to establish close collaboration with the industry. While we actively engage with them, it brings into question whether they are truly receptive to our efforts.

The UK’s 2050 Net Zero Carbon target was a world leading commitment to address the enormity of the challenges facing our planet. A further weakening of climate policy would cause enormous damage to the UK’s reputation and standing and undermine much of the progress that has been achieved. The government should listen to business and ensure these targets are retained for the good of the UK.

Simon Storer, Chief Executive

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