Quick response to the PM’s ‘fag-packet’ plan

Nov. 2020

Five years on from the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement, and the UK Government’s ten-point plan amounts to little more than a rhetorical flourish for which future generations will pay dearly. In the absence of a coordinated, quantitively robust and timely strategy, its piecemeal proposals are very much part of the problem and not a thought-through solution.

Certainly, the increase in wind power is to be welcomed, but the planned 40GW by 2030 is equivalent to around 7% of the UK’s current energy demand. Nuclear is another low-carbon option, currently providing a little over 3% of the nation’s energy consumption, yet the Government’s proposal sees this barely increasing over the coming decade or so. Whilst the plan is upbeat about hydrogen, it sees just a single town using it for heating by 2030. As for the UK’s more than 25 million homes, the plan offers just pennies to retrofit these, scarcely scratching the huge scale of the challenge of making UK homes low-carbon and climate resilient.

In reality the plan is simply a future technology wish list, with a dominant focus on energy supply. It fails to recognise the carbon budget imperative, that requires deep reductions year on year from now. There is no reference to tailoring polices towards the relatively few high emitters responsible for the lion’s share of carbon emissions. Nor does it include a rapid phase out plan for the UK’s own fossil fuel industry, or even a pledge for the Government to stop investing UK tax-payers’ money in fossil fuel projects abroad.

Please note the numbers above are for final energy consumption not just for electricity