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A stumble towards net zero

Kevin Whitmore BECG

Written by

Kevin Whitmore


For those interested in how the UK is going to meet its 2050 decarbonisation targets, Christmas came early this week.

Not only did Government release its long-awaited Net Zero Strategy and Heat & Building Strategy.  There was also analysis from the Treasury about how to pay for the move away from fossil fuels in the Net Zero Review and the Green Finance Roadmap which indicates how investment for the green agenda will be secured.

You could be forgiven for thinking there was a global summit taking place next week on this very subject.

For those of us who have sought to capitalise on the move towards Net Zero across the North, we can take comfort from the £1bn CCS Infrastructure Fund to support carbon capture, usage and storage (and hydrogen) projects in the North West, Teesside and Humberside.

This funding will help both industrial clusters to move to the next phase of development and will position the North of England right at the centre of the ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ over the next 20 years.

But beyond this investment, the political reality of how and when to pay for the Net Zero transition is beginning to dawn.  Especially on newly-elected Conservative MPs who staring down the barrel of rising living costs, tax increases and limited ‘levelling up’ progress ahead of a general election as early as 2023.

There has been much coverage of the £5,000 grants for air-sourced heat pumps but this will only fund 90,000 homes and only the well off will be able to benefit at current market prices.  This could be one reason why the Heat & Building Strategy did not plot one definitive route to decarbonising heat.

What is clear is that Government is relying on the private sector to innovate and deliver solutions, partly because the Treasury is frank about the unknown costs associated with the carbon transition either to the taxpayer or to business.

Nevertheless, there remain clear opportunities for businesses, investors and entrepreneurs across the North to help shape the future of energy in the UK.  Both the North West’s HyNet project and the East Coast Cluster project demonstrate that when the business and public sectors collaborate they can make a persuasive case to Government to invest in the region.


This article first appeared on Place North West’s website.You can view it here.


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