Chair comments Prime Minister’s 10-point plan
18 November 2020
Reacting to the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan on the UK reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, Environmental Audit Committee Chairman Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP said:
“The Prime Minister’s 10-point plan to build back greener, and supporting 250,000 green jobs, is an important commitment a year out from hosting COP26. But it is disappointing that of the £12billion funding in the plan, only £4billion is new.
I am pleased that the Government has put innovation at the heart of moving towards net-zero; powering homes with offshore wind generation and paving the way for a hydrogen town.
These are great signals to decarbonise the UK’s energy mix. We have heard in our own inquiry on Technological Innovations and Climate Change that what was lacking was a strong vision and pipeline of projects that industry can get behind. I hope the Prime Minister’s announcement offers this signal, and it is crucial the upcoming Hydrogen Strategy outlines how the UK can create green hydrogen using renewable energy. Although we now have a down payment on the promised Hydrogen Strategy, we are trailing other countries and we need to get started quickly before we risk falling behind on this opportunity.
My Committee’s work on energy efficiency in existing homes has heard the challenges and opportunities of upgrading homes to EPC rated C. There are 19 million homes which are not energy efficient – retrofitting these homes is a huge task and the extension of the Green Homes Grant is an essential but modest first step. We heard recently that as every home is different, careful assessment by skilled professionals is needed to determine upgrades. Setting a clear Government strategy to facilitate upskilling and training sufficient construction workers is essential to deliver this opportunity.
We are far too aware of the fragility of our natural environment and protecting land and restoring nature is crucially important. The Prime Minister’s commitments are welcome; but the agencies monitoring progress need to be sufficiently resourced. My Committee heard from Natural England only last week that funding squeezes has severely limited their capacity to protect precious ecosystems. We also need to know that there is a plan to tackle the harmful pollution coursing through our waterways – damaging human health and biodiversity.
It is also welcome news that competitions will stimulate innovation in some of the hardest to decarbonise sectors like aviation and maritime.
The Climate Assembly has recently called for leadership from Government to reach net zero, and the Prime Minister has today set this direction. However, the devil will be in the detail. I look forward to the upcoming Energy White Paper, Hydrogen Strategy, and Heat and Buildings Strategy, along with roadmaps to show how all these commitments and Carbon Budget targets will be met. I hope the private sector and Government can now work together to achieve the overwhelming potential a green future can bring.”
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