The unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on the UK’s long-term net-zero carbon targets for 2050. Several energy experts are saying that the country is currently off its track, suggesting that more ambitious policies need to be implemented, and fast.
Further, two-thirds of the Energy Institute’s survey respondents think that the industry’s actions are not enough in decarbonising the economy or optimising energy efficiency. The survey revealed that the slow progress of the UK’s climate action could jeopardise its position as the host of the 2021 COP26 in Glasgow.
The Energy Institute recently published its latest annual report, Energy Barometer, that reveals the prospects for the energy industry regarding its net-zero 2050 goal, including renewables, oil and gas, and energy efficiency.
In the survey, almost 90% of respondents, mainly energy professionals in the UK, said that the country is off-track its 2050 net-zero emission target.
The report, which gauged the insights of 350 experts across the energy sector, showed that over half believe that the industry will not reach its interim 2030 goal unless immediate and decisive policies are set in motion.
The slow progression of the UK’s measures in tackling emissions could likely undermine its credibility as the COP26 host in Glasgow next year. The said event is part of the UN’s climate change conferences involving leaders and industry professionals worldwide.
The respondents believe that the government should support green recovery and channel stimulus funds into sustainability projects, jobs, and industries. Additionally, experts consider the COVID-19 pandemic as a significant challenge for the sector this year, taking over Brexit-related concerns last year.
While one-third of the respondents’ organisations have publicly announced support for the decarbonisation target, two-thirds are doubtful that the energy industry is implementing enough action to reduce carbon emissions. They believe energy efficiency is the most significant opportunity the sector missed in the last ten years.
Experts maintained that resilient recovery could be ushered by retrofitting, ensuring that homes become efficient. It will help close the gap going into the 2030 emissions reduction goal, making it a more affordable option according to professionals.
The UK is a global climate leader, given the Climate Change Act is the first of its kind. However, the respondents raised severe red flags regarding the nation’s ability to keep up with its commitment.
The key players in the industry collectively agree that ambitious policies are needed to achieve large-scale goals. As of writing, emissions drop to only 40%, which is a long way from the zero targets. While 2050 might seem far into the future, lead times for developing and deploying technologies can be lengthy.
Members of the Energy Barometer urge the government to focus on making homes more resilient and efficient. Retrofitting can create jobs and provide long-term benefits for the environment and society.
Steve Holliday, a former National Grid CEO, said that today is a decade of delivery, which necessitates urgent action to ensure that the carbon budget is used wisely.
Energy industry members believe that the pandemic should not be used as an excuse to ‘build back better’. Four in five respondents agree with the CCC or the Committee on Climate Change’
sentiments that stimulus funds should be routed to green industries. At the same time, emission-intensive sectors should be supported with a contingency on the country’s climate action.
There should be an urgency in decision-making, particularly on hydrogen HGVs, low-carbon aviation fuel, hydrogen-ready boilers, heat pumps, and carbon capture demonstration. These technologies can help the country get on track its 2050 decarbonisation targets.
Pushing for these innovations, along with scaling down the use and sale of fossil fuels in favour of gases, low-carbon liquids and gases, will enable the energy industry to see its commitment come to life.
The oil and gas sector worldwide spend a small fraction of its capital expenditure on low-carbon technologies. Experts believe investments should be accelerated to ensure that the holistic transformation to a net-zero 2050 is realised in all sectors.
A lot of nations are looking at the UK to lead the world’s carbon emission reduction goals. Ensuring that the country is on-track its legally-binding targets can further cement its international credibility.
As the world designs its ‘Race to Zero’, the UK is expected to lead by example and highlight its position as a climate leader. Pushing for an ambitious energy action can reciprocate the country’s efforts across the globe, cushioning the harsh impacts of climate change.