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Government unveils 10-point plan for ‘green industrial revolution’

Image credit: Dreamstime

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has revealed the government’s decarbonisation plan, which includes powering every home with offshore wind, bringing forward the ban on petrol and diesel vehicles, and support for hydrogen, carbon capture, and nuclear power.

The UK is aiming to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and will host the critical COP26 climate summit in Glasgow next year.

The government claims that the plan will mobilise £12bn in investment to create and support up to 25,000 high-skilled jobs in green industries, and encourage over three times as much private sector investment by 2030. The plan focuses on the UK’s “industrial heartlands”, including the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the West Midlands.

The 10 points of the plans are:

  • Offshore wind: Producing enough offshore wind to power every home, quadrupling how much we produce to 40GW by 2030, supporting up to 60,000 jobs.
  • Hydrogen: Working with industry aiming to generate 5GW of low-carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 for industry, transport, power and homes, and aiming to develop the first town heated entirely by hydrogen by the end of the decade.
  • Nuclear: Advancing nuclear as a clean energy source, across large-scale nuclear and developing the next generation of small and advanced reactors, which could support 10,000 jobs.
  • Electric vehicles: Backing our world-leading car-manufacturing bases including in the West Midlands, North East and North Wales to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, and transforming our national infrastructure to better support electric vehicles.
  • Public transport, cycling and walking: Making cycling and walking more attractive ways to travel and investing in zero-emission public transport of the future.
  • Jet Zero and greener maritime: Supporting difficult-to-decarbonise industries to become greener through research projects for zero-emission planes and ships.
  • Homes and public buildings: Making our homes, schools and hospitals greener, warmer, and more energy efficient, while creating 50,000 jobs by 2030, and a target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.
  • Carbon capture: Becoming a world-leader in technology to capture and store harmful emissions away from the atmosphere, with a target to remove 10MT of carbon dioxide by 2030, equivalent to all emissions of the industrial Humber today.
  • Nature: Protecting and restoring our natural environment, planting 30,000 hectares of trees every year, while creating and retaining thousands of jobs.
  • Innovation and finance: Developing the cutting-edge technologies needed to reach these new energy ambitions and make the City of London the global centre of green finance.

“Although this year has taken a very different path to the one we expected, I haven’t lost sight of our ambitious plans to level up across the country,” said Johnson. “My Ten Point Plan will create, support, and protect hundreds of thousands of green jobs, whilst making strides towards net-zero by 2050.

“Our green industrial revolution will be powered by the wind turbines of Scotland and the North East, propelled by the electric vehicles made in the Midlands, and advanced by the latest technologies developed in Wales, so we can look ahead to a more prosperous, greener future.”

Support for the plan will include: an extra £200m in funding to create two carbon-capture clusters by the mid-2020s and another two by 2030; up to £500m to support trialling the use of hydrogen for domestic heating and cooking with a view to creating a 'Hydrogen Town' before 2030; £525m towards the development of large- and small-scale nuclear plants; £1bn next year into making new and existing homes and public buildings more efficient; £1.3bn to accelerate the rollout of EV charge points; and almost £500m to support the development and mass-scale production of EV batteries.

The Labour Party said that just £4bn of the £12bn mobilised for the plan was new, with Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband warning that the funding does not “remotely” meet the scale of what is needed to tackle climate change and unemployment.

“We don’t need rebadged funding pots and reheated pledges, but an ambitious plan that meets the scale of the task we are facing and – crucially – creates jobs now,” Miliband said. “That’s why Labour called for the government to bring forward £30bn of capital investment over the next 18 months and invest it in low-carbon sectors now as part of a rapid stimulus package to support 400,000 additional jobs.”

The Prime Minister is meeting with business leaders this week to set out planned regulatory changes and to discuss their contributions.

Chair of the Committee on Climate Change Lord Deben said: “This must now be turned into a detailed road map – so we all know what’s coming down the track in the years ahead. Our homes, the way we travel, our industries, our land, and all of us individually have a role to play as we strive to lead the world in tackling climate change. The good news is that we can also reap the rewards – improved health, a stronger economy, a boost for UK jobs, and the ability to tell our children and grandchildren that the UK acted in time.”

The plan was largely welcomed by Greenpeace UK, whose head of politics said that it marks a “turning point on climate action” but warned the government against fixating on “speculative solutions” such as hydrogen.

Professor Nilay Shah, vice-chair of the National Engineering Policy Centre’s Net-Zero working group, commented: “This is an ambitious and broad-ranging announcement. It’s good to see a holistic approach, which aims to advance our capabilities across a broad range of domains. There is a good balance of supply, demand, and infrastructure interventions planned.

“However, delivering net-zero in a just and economically beneficial way will require a huge and sustained engineering effort, a clear understanding of how the different interventions work together as a system, and accompanying societal, cultural, behavioural and structural change. It requires a stable commitment by government to net-zero policymaking over the long term that builds on the short-term economic recovery and responds to the scale and pace of change required.”

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