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UK and Scottish governments unveil Green Freeports plan

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A landmark deal has been agreed between the UK and Scottish governments to collaborate and deliver two Green Freeports in Scotland.

The new hubs will ‘support the regeneration of communities across Scotland, will bring jobs and prosperity, and support UK government work to level-up all four corners of the United Kingdom’, according to a joint statement.

The Green Freeports will have net-zero targets at the heart as prospective bidders will have to make a pledge to reach Net Zero by 2045.

The bidding process will open in spring, closing in summer, after which the bids will be assessed, and successful locations announced. It’s hoped that the new sites will be operational by spring 2023.

Freeports are special areas within the UK’s borders where different economic regulations apply. They are centred around one or more air, rail, or seaport, but can extend up to 45km beyond the port(s).

Officials from the UK and Scottish governments will jointly assess the prospective bids to ensure they meet their shared goals and ministers will have an equal say on the final selection of the locations.

Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy, Kate Forbes said: ‘I am pleased we have been able to reach an agreement on a joint approach that recognises the distinct needs of Scotland and enshrines the Scottish Government’s commitment to achieving net-zero and embedding fair work practices through public investment.

“Scotland has a rich history of innovative manufacturers and so as we look to grasp the many opportunities of achieving net-zero, the establishment of Green Freeports will help us create new green jobs, deliver a just transition and support our economic transformation.”

UK biomass sector receives government funding worth £26 million

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Innovative biomass projects across the UK can now bid for a share of £26 million as the government ramps up plans to boost the use of materials such as grasses, hemp and seaweed to help the UK reach net zero.

Biomass refers to sustainably derived plant material that could be used as fuel to produce energy for heating and powering homes and businesses. Biomass, which is also backed by the independent Climate Change Committee, will be an important part of the renewable energy mix, vital for the UK to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

The chosen projects will drive biomass productivity in the UK through the breeding, planting, cultivating and harvesting of organic matter; from water-based materials such as algae, to whole trees through sustainable forestry operations.

The funding, available through Phase 2 of the government’s Biomass Feedstocks Innovation Programme, will see projects previously supported under Phase 1 with government funding to design new ways of boosting biomass production in the first round of the scheme, able to apply for further support to bring their projects to life.

Each project will be able to bid for up to £4 million in funding, or up to £5 million for bids from the multi-site demonstrator projects that will showcase new biomass feedstock production projects in multiple locations across the UK.

25 projects located across the country, from start-ups and family-run businesses to research institutes and universities, have already received a share of £4 million under Phase 1 of the programme. Under Phase 2, the projects will be developed from the design stage into full demonstration projects, showcasing new methods to grow biomass materials, which can be used to produce low-carbon energy.

The Biomass Feedstocks Innovation programme, part of the government’s £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, is designed to increase the production of sustainable UK biomass feedstocks, and accelerate the commercialisation of the innovative biomass production technologies supported through the programme.

The projects supported under Phase 1 included a range of biomass production ideas, such as producing algae using wastewater from breweries and dairy industries, farming seaweed off the North Yorkshire coast, and increasing the planting and harvesting capacity for willow.

With this new £26 million government funding announced today, the Biomass Feedstocks Innovation Programme will lead to a greater supply of organic materials from domestic sources rather than using imported matter, with the successful projects supporting rural economies across the UK, providing jobs and encouraging private investment, while helping the UK on the path to net zero.

No more public contracts unless suppliers have Net Zero plan, says government

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New measures unveiled by the UK government will require businesses to commit to net zero by 2050 and publish clear and credible carbon reduction plans before they can bid for major public contracts.

The rules will support the government’s plan to build back greener by ensuring that potential government suppliers publish plans to reduce carbon emissions across their operations in order to bid for major government contracts.

The measures (announced on World Environment Day) make the UK government the first in the world to put this requirement in place, which it says underlines the UK’s leadership in tackling climate change.

Under the new measures, by September, prospective suppliers bidding for contracts above £5million a year will need to have committed to the government’s target of net zero by 2050 and have published a carbon reduction plan. Firms which fail to do so will be excluded from bidding for the contract.

A carbon reduction plan sets out where an organisation’s emissions come from and the environmental management measures that they have in place. Some large companies already self-report parts of their carbon emissions, known as Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (indirect owned) emissions.

The new rules will go further, requiring the reporting of some Scope 3 emissions, including business travel, employee commuting, transportation, distribution and waste. Scope 3 emissions represent a significant proportion of an organisation’s carbon footprint.

The new rules drive forward the government’s green agenda, while also striking a balance to not overly burden and potentially exclude small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from bidding for government work.

The approach is similar to the successful prompt payment measure introduced in 2019, which allowed a supplier’s performance in paying their subcontractors promptly to be taken into account when bidding for government work. As a result of this measure, we have seen improvements in payment performance across the UK economy.

All companies bidding for major government contracts will need to comply with the measure, not just those who are successful in winning contracts. This further widens the impact of the measure, as more and more suppliers commit to achieving Net Zero. The measures will apply to all central government departments and arms length bodies.

Minister for Efficiency and Transformation, Lord Agnew, said: “The government spends more than £290 billion on procurement every year, so it’s important we use this purchasing power to help transform our economy to net-zero. Requiring companies to report and commit to reducing their carbon emissions before bidding for public work is a key part of our world leading approach. These measures will help green our economy, while not overly burdening businesses, particularly SMEs.”

Tom Thackray, Director of Infrastructure and Energy, at the CBI said: “As the world looks towards the UK and COP26 for leadership on decarbonisation, business is already playing a vital role in driving progress towards a greener future. The CBI has long supported using procurement policy to ensure government spending supports the UK’s environmental objectives and these changes will encourage more firms across the country to demonstrate their own commitment to net zero when bidding for government contracts. Partnership between the public and private sectors can make the UK a global role-model, not only in delivering vital public services but working together to tackle climate change.”

EIB pledges €3.4bn for climate action and clean energy

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€3.4 billion of new financing has been approved by the European Investment Bank (EIB) to accelerate the shift towards renewable energy and sustainable transport, corporate innovation, improved housing, education and communications.

€2 billion to harness wind and solar power

The bank’s Board of Directors of the EIB approved financing for the development of renewable energy projects in France and Germany, the increase the use of solar power by home owners across Spain, wind power in Ireland, upgraded energy distribution in Italy, and a pioneering photovoltaic plant that uses batteries and hydrogen to store energy.

€700 million to improve public transport

The EIB also agreed to back the acquisition of a fleet of hydrogen powered trains including the installation of hydrogen refuelling facilities in the Netherlands and to upgrade regional rail services in Germany. The EU Bank also approved financing to increase use of renewable energy at airports across Spain.

€720 million for COVID-19 economic resilience, business investment and corporate innovation

As part of the rapid response to COVID-19, the EIB Board agreed new financing to accelerate investment by companies most impacted by the pandemic in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.

The EIB also backed support for corporate research and development in Germany, expansion of online digital business activity in France, and backing for climate related investment by companies across Poland.

€837 million for education, housing, communications, water and sustainable urban investment

The EIB approved investment to construct and modernise energy efficient social and affordable housing in northern Italy, upgrade urban and regional infrastructure in the Czech Republic, and improve communications in Poland and North Africa.

Financing also went to strengthening the supply of drinking water in Paris and upgrade drinking water supply and wastewater treatment in Vilnius.

Technical education across the Ukraine will be improved by the modernisation of 13 vocational education and training centres agreed by the EIB today.

Overview of projects approved by the EIB Board

“The green transformation of the global economy gathers speed. The green energy and sustainable transport projects approved by the EIB, the EU’s climate bank, today demonstrate the vision, ambition and partnership needed to slash greenhouse gas emissions this decade and beyond. I am thrilled that this week the European Union agreed to be climate-neutral by 2050. Tomorrow President Biden will host world leaders and renew the shared determination to fight the climate crisis. The return by the US to the community of countries committed to the Paris Agreement goals and to climate action is hugely welcome news, an essential and urgent step toward multiplying the effect of individual actions through global cooperation”, said Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank. 

£90 million government boost for green aerospace manufacturing

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The government says 1,400 jobs could be secured across the UK thanks to nearly £90 million investment in aerospace manufacturing.

The government-industry funding for the five projects through the Aerospace Technology Institute Programme aims to improve manufacturing within the aerospace industry, developing technology to make production lines quicker, more efficient, and more cost-effective.

A particular focus of the project proposals is on creating lightweight materials and parts that will reduce how much fuel is used and that can be adopted onto future hybrid and electric planes. This, the government says, will help the wider aerospace industry build back greener as it innovates and adapts to more sustainable travel over the next few decades.

This will help safeguard the UK’s manufacturing sector, ensuring that the UK remains a competitive market for aerospace companies as it recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

Successful projects could help to secure approximately 1,400 jobs across the UK, from Bristol to Belfast, and South Wales to Somerset, improving local growth and benefitting communities.

Minister for Business Paul Scully said: “This multi-million-pound cash injection will safeguard vital jobs and support the aerospace sector as it builds back stronger after the pandemic.

“Manufacturing is at the very heart of UK industry, and innovative processes will ensure that the UK is at the forefront of global efforts as we develop technology that can power a green aviation revolution.”

Projects receiving funding today include:

  • GKN Aerospace-led ASCEND [Bristol]: With McLaren Automotive also joining the consortium, the project is seeking to develop and accelerate new lightweight, composite technology, including parts for aircraft wings, in the aerospace and automotive sectors, and improve supply chains for more sustainable future mobility solutions.
  • Renishaw-led LAMDA [Gloucestershire]: The project will develop a 3D metal printing machine to mass produce smaller components for aircraft, increasing production and consistency and reducing costs. Manufacturing will take place in South Wales.
  • Q5D-led LiveWire [North Somerset]: The project will create a machine that can automate the manufacture of wiring and embed it into aircraft parts including airline seats or even a control panel in a flight deck, reducing costs and making lighter, higher-quality components. The technology will provide new employment opportunities in the UK, and on-shore jobs previously undertaken abroad.

Aviation Minister Robert Courts said: “Net Zero aviation is the future and this cash injection will boost capabilities as we look to build back greener and make businesses sustainable in the future.

“We are committed to working closely with industry, including through the Jet Zero Council, to accelerate the development of new aviation technology and Sustainable Aviation Fuels to help us realise net zero flight.”

The government will help advance the UK’s future transport system through its extensive R&D Roadmap and to increase R&D public spending to £22 billion per year by 2024/5. This investment comes ahead of the consultation on the Aviation Decarbonisation Strategy this year, set out as part of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution, with jet zero and low carbon aviation as a key pillar to building back greener.

The announcement of grant winners forms part of a wider £3.9 billion government-industry investment in aerospace research and development projects from 2013 to 2026 through the Aerospace Growth Partnership and delivered through the ATI Programme.

UK Government white paper sets out plans for clean energy system

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The UK government has set out what it calls an ‘ambitious plan’ to clean up the country’s energy system, support up to 220,000 jobs, and keep bills affordable as the transition to net zero by 2050 continues.

The Energy White Paper sets out specific steps the government will take over the next decade to cut emissions from industry, transport, and buildings by 230 million metric tonnes – equivalent to taking 7.5 million petrol cars off the road permanently – while supporting hundreds of thousands of new green jobs.

The government says it will put affordability at the heart of the UK’s decisive shift away from fossil fuels by boosting competition in the energy retail market to tackle the ‘loyalty penalty’ – longstanding customers who pay more than new ones – and by providing at least £6.7 billion in support to the fuel poor and most vulnerable over the next 6 years.

Alongside the Energy White Paper, the government has also confirmed that it is to enter negotiations with EDF in relation to the Sizewell C project in Suffolk as it considers options to enable investment in at least one nuclear power station by the end of this Parliament. If the project proceeds, it could create thousands of new jobs during construction and operation.

This is the next step in considering the Sizewell C project, and negotiations will be subject to reaching a value for money deal and all other relevant approvals, before any final decision is taken on whether to proceed. The government says the successful conclusion of these negotiations will be subject to thorough scrutiny and needs to satisfy the its legal, regulatory and national security requirements.

Core parts of the Energy White Paper include:

  1. Supporting up to 220,000 jobs in the next 10 years. This includes long-term jobs in major infrastructure projects for power generation, carbon capture storage and hydrogen, as well as a major programme of retrofitting homes for improved energy efficiency and clean heat.
  2. Transforming the UK’s energy system from one that was historically based on fossil fuels to one that is fit for a net zero economy, changing how we heat our homes and travel, doubling our electricity use, and harnessing renewable energy supplies.
  3. Keeping bills affordable for consumers by making the energy retail market truly competitive. This will include offering people a simple method of switching to a cheaper energy tariff, and testing automatically switching consumers to fairer deals to tackle “loyalty penalties”.
  4. Generating emission-free electricity by 2050 with a trajectory that will see us have overwhelmingly decarbonised power in the 2030s. Low carbon electricity will be a key enabler of our transition to a net zero economy with demand expected to double due to transport and low carbon heat.
  5. Establishing a UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) from 1 January 2021 to replace the current EU ETS at the end of the Transition Period. It increases ambition on reducing emissions, and provides continuation of emissions trading for UK businesses and certainty on how they operate.
  6. Continuing to explore a range of financing options for new nuclear with developers including the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) funding model, which could help secure private investment and cost consumers less in the long run. Given the scale of the financing challenge, we will also consider the potential role of government finance during construction, provided there is clear value for money for consumers and taxpayers.
  7. Delivering ambitious electricity commitments through our world-beating commitment to deliver 40GW of offshore wind by 2030, including 1GW of floating wind, enough to power every home in the country – while attracting new offshore wind manufacturers to the UK.
  8. Investing £1 billion in state-of-the-art carbon capture storage in four industrial clusters by 2030 – sucking carbon out of industrial processes to stop emissions escaping to the air. Four low carbon clusters will be set up by 2030, and at least one fully net zero cluster by 2040, stimulating the market to attract new investors and manufacturers to reinvigorate our industrial heartlands.
  9. Kick-starting the hydrogen economy by working with industry to aim for 5GW of production by 2030, backed up by a new £240m net zero Hydrogen Fund for low carbon hydrogen production.
  10. Investing £1.3 billion to accelerate the rollout of charge points for electric vehicles in homes, streets and on motorways as well as up to £1 billion to support the electrification of cars, including for the mass-production of the batteries needed for electric vehicles. The rollout has levelling up at its heart, and will support economic growth across the UK – including in our strong manufacturing bases in the Midlands and the North East – while supporting the 169,000 jobs in our world-leading automotive sector.
  11. Supporting the lowest paid with their bills through a £6.7 billion package of measures that could save families in old inefficient homes up to £400. This includes extending the Warm Home Discount Scheme to 2026 to cover an extra three quarters of a million households and giving eligible households £150 off their electricity bills each winter. The £2 billion Green Homes Grant announced by the Chancellor has been extended for a further year in the Ten Point Plan.
  12. Moving away from fossil fuel boilers, helping to make people’s homes warmer, whilst keeping bills low. By the mid-2030s we expect all newly installed heating systems to be low carbon or to be appliances that we are confident can be converted to a clean fuel supply.
  13. Supporting North Sea oil and gas transition for the people and communities most affected by the move away from oil and gas production, ensuring that the expertise of the oil and gas sector be drawn on in developing carbon capture and storage and hydrogen production to provide new green jobs.

Plans to create jobs through the Energy White Paper build on the £280 billion support package that has been provided as part of the government’s Plan for Jobs to safeguard jobs in every region and nation of the UK, with support now extended until March 2021.

Kick-starting the process of ensuring fairness and affordability for bill-payers will be a series of consultations in spring 2021 to create the framework to introduce opt-in switching, consider reforms to the current roll-over tariff arrangements, and a call for evidence to begin a strategic dialogue between government, consumers and industry on affordability and fairness.

The UK ETS will promote cost-effective decarbonisation, allowing businesses to cut carbon where it is cheapest to do so, promoting innovation and growth for UK businesses. It will be the world’s first net zero carbon cap and trade market, and a step towards achieving the UK’s target for net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The government says the scheme is more ambitious than the EU system it replaces – from day one the cap on emissions allowed within the system will be reduced by 5%, and the government says it will consult in due course on how to align with net zero. This, it says, gives industry the certainty it needs to invest in low carbon technologies.

UK businesses pledge £3bn to back British hydrogen

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The UK could see more than £3 billion invested in the emerging hydrogen sector as more businesses step forward to pledge funding – but only if PM Boris Johnson backs the low-carbon fuel.

Earlier this year, cross-industry group Hydrogen Strategy Now said its members were ready to pump £1.5bn into the UK hydrogen economy. The group revealed that figure has now doubled to £3bn as more businesses line up plans for hydrogen projects across the UK.

Now bosses from leading businesses have come together to call on Mr Johnson to pave the way for a British hydrogen economy in his long-awaited energy strategy as they vowed to heavily invest in hydrogen technologies.

Members of Hydrogen Strategy Now, which combined employs around 100,000 people and has a value of £100bn in the UK, said their shovel-ready projects would create thousands of jobs across the country, helping to kick start a post-Covid green recovery.

The group has welcomed the recent appointment of Andrew Griffith, MP for Arundel and the South Downs, as the Government’s Net Zero Business Tsar, as a positive step in the right direction from Parliament.

But its members have warned that unless the sector receives load and clear backing from the Government, the UK risks being left behind the rest of the globe.

Attracting cross-party support, the Hydrogen Strategy Now collective wants to see a clear, strategic plan to help unlock significant private funding in hydrogen technologies and manufacturing across the country, driving growth and generating hundreds of thousands of green jobs.

They believe a UK-wide hydrogen economy will:

●      Create and sustain hundreds of thousands of high-skilled, green jobs, in all parts of the country and in alignment with the Government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda

●      Drive progress to Net Zero and improve air quality in towns and cities

●      Secure private investment into the UK, and unlock export opportunities for our products and skills

●      Increase our energy security by making fuller use of the UK’s natural resources

A letter from the group to Chancellor Rishi Sunak earlier this year stated: “As you look to design a post-COVID recovery, we encourage you to focus on creating high-skilled, green jobs, in sectors that will be critical to the future economy, such as low-carbon energy, transport and heavy industry.

“These measures would be wholly complimentary to the Government’s levelling-up agenda and long-term decarbonisation goals. For example, the Committee for Climate Change has made it clear that the UK will not meet its Net Zero targets without significant investment in the hydrogen economy.

“The global hydrogen economy is estimated to be worth $2.5 trillion by 2050, supporting 30 million jobs. Other nations, such as Australia, Japan, South Korea, Canada, and China have already set ambitious strategies for growing their hydrogen economies. Just last week, Germany joined this list with their own €9 billion hydrogen strategy. The European Commission is also creating an EU hydrogen strategy, which includes plans for multi-billion euro investment in hydrogen projects, and schemes to boost sales of hydrogen electric vehicles.

“It is now clear that hydrogen is going to play an essential role in the world’s future, low-carbon economy. The increasingly bold steps being taken by other nations underlines the need for the UK to bring forward urgent measures to establish a hydrogen strategy and unlock investment and innovation. We should not risk falling behind other nations in developing our hydrogen industry.”

Widespread ‘net zero’ scepticism among UK public

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The majority of the UK public are sceptical about achieving the net zero target, with 58% believing that it is unlikely that the target will be achieved even by 2050.

Bright Blue, the independent think tank for liberal conservatism, has published analysis of UK public attitudes to the target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, entitled Going greener? Public attitudes to net zero.

The report explores attitudes to the credibility of, responsibility for, and policies to achieve net zero, with key finding including:-

  • National governments are seen to have the highest responsibility for achieving the target. 82% of the public assign them a high degree of responsibility. Strong majorities also think businesses (82%), local governments (78%), and members of the public (74%) have a high degree of responsibility.
  • Public awareness of how various activities contribute to greenhouse gas emissions is generally strong. Although the extent of these perceptions varies between activities, from 77% of the public seeing flying on aeroplanes as a significant contributor to climate to 56% for production of food on farms.
  • A majority of the public think that people will need to undertake a number of changes in their behaviour to help achieve net zero.This includes recycling more (63%), installing better home insulation (53%), reducing air travel (52%) and buying and driving an electric car (52%). Eating less meat was the lowest supported change of behaviour (34%). Only 10% of people thought most people would not have to make any changes.
  • Much of the public are already making changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A majority of the public (72%) already reuses and recycles more products, while a plurality is buying more locally produced goods (43%), has installed home insulation (43%), used more cycling or public transport (35%) and eaten less meat (35%).
  • The public has a significant expectation of price increases to achieve net zero. They expect prices will go up greatly or slightly on all types of products and services that we have polled if we take action to achieve net zero. Airplane tickets see the greatest expectation in higher prices, with 67% believing they will increase. The public is split on whether they actually would be willing to pay more for these products and services where higher prices would lead to lower emissions. People are most likely to be willing to pay more for products where they also have the lowest expectation of higher prices, such as electronic goods (46% willing to pay more), food (46%) and clothing (45%). In contrast, household electricity and home heating, both of which are most likely to be believed to face price increases as a result of net zero, are also products where a majority of people (52% and 51% respectively) say they would not be willing to pay more for them to lower emissions.
  • The public prefers a ‘carrot’ over ‘stick’ approach to achieving net zero. The public prefers policy approaches which use financial incentives to encourage environmentally friendly practices for individuals (49%) and businesses (45%) over laws and regulations that discourage or punish choices by individuals (34%) and businesses (38%).
  • There are high levels of support for a range of government policies for achieving net zero. This includes requiring firms that work for government to assess and report on their carbon footprint (66%), providing tax breaks for businesses which have cut emissions (59%), introducing a carbon tax (52%), taxing investment in fossil fuels (51%), establishing a new emissions trading scheme for businesses (50%) and installing smart meters in all homes and businesses (49%).
  • There is public support for government subsidies to help with decarbonisation. A majority of the public support government subsidies for installing better home insulation (69%), using an electric car (64%), switching away from natural gas heating in homes (62%) and using cycling or public transport as main methods of travel (53%). But the public opposes government subsidies for reducing air travel, with 35% supportive and 43% opposed, and eating less meat, with 27% supportive and 52% opposed.
  • There is strong support for subsidies for low-income households and small businesses. There is also broad public support for subsidies to help with at least some costs of decarbonisation changes, such as insulation, for low-income households (81%) and small businesses (80%). 27% of the public thinks that low-income households should receive help with all of the costs, and 29% think so about most of the costs, indicating that most of the public would support significant government action. In contrast, only 15% think that small businesses should receive help with all of the costs, indicating that the public wishes to aid them in a more limited manner.
  • The public believes that many businesses aren’t taking enough action to reduce emissions. The public is most critical of airlines, with 50% believing they are not taking enough action. More people are critical than not of: industrial manufacturers, gas companies, car makers, high street shops, electricity companies, container shipping firms, housebuilders, and supermarkets. The farming industry is the only industry that more people believe are doing enough than not enough, with 33% believing they are and 27% believing they are not.
  • There is a high level of support for specific actions by businesses to help achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions as long as they do not impact prices. A majority supports businesses investing profits into sustainable technologies and practices (68%), offsetting greenhouse gas emissions (63%), creating internal targets for achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions (62%), publishing detailed breakdowns of emissions from business activities (62%) and making consideration of emissions a key factor in decision-making (62%). However, support for increasing charges to customers to cut emissions is low (29%).
  • Public familiarity with low-carbon heating technologies remains relatively low. Only 42% of the British public have heard of heat pumps, which is the system with the highest familiarity, in comparison to 46% who have not heard of them. People are even less familiar with hybrid boilers (27%), hydrogen boilers (21%) and heat networks (18%). As such, there is relatively low interest in replacing the existing heating method with a low-carbon heating system such as hybrid boilers (44%), heat pumps (44%), hydrogen boilers (35%) and heat networks (32%). A large number of the public did not provide a response, likely due to the low familiarity.
  • The public prioritises functionality, cost, and ease of use over a low carbon footprint for home heating systems. A majority of the public think that having a residential heating system with a low carbon footprint is important (67%). However, control functions such as being able to use it at any point (86%), heating up quickly (84%) and ownership (75%), are seen as more important as well as being lower cost than alternatives (78%) and being familiar (77%). While reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is a motivating factor for installing a new home heating system for the majority of the public (68%), other factors including running costs (83%), having reliable information (82%), cost of replacement (80%), ease of procuring and installation (77%), and ownership (71%) are more popular reasons.
  • There is a high degree of familiarity among most of the public regarding home energy efficiency measures. Double glazing (88%), loft insulation (87%), wall insulation (85%), energy-efficient lighting (84%) draught-proofing windows (79%) and under floor insulation (77%) are all being widely recognised. Levels of installation of different energy efficiency measures closely follow knowledge of them, with double glazing (51%), loft insulation (46%), wall insulation (39%), energy-efficient lighting (34%) and draught-proofing windows (30%) already being installed by a notable proportion of the UK public.
  • The public sees a range of benefits and drawbacks from adopting these energy efficiency measures. These include making energy bills cheaper (69%), reducing greenhouse gas emissions (52%) and making the house more comfortable to live in (49%) being seen as the most important benefit, while high initial costs (62%), disruption during installation (36%) and future costs in maintaining the measures (31%) seen as the key drawbacks.

Anvar Sarygulov, Senior Researcher at Bright Blue and report author, said: “The changes that need to be made by individuals, businesses and government to help achieve net zero are demanding and disruptive. The public recognises that the government, businesses and individuals themselves have a lot to contribute to help Britain achieve its climate change goals, and are receptive to a variety of policies and behavioural changes to help make it happen. However, if it means increased prices on home electricity and heating, the public are opposed to action.

“Ambitious, sometimes radical, action will be needed across economic sectors. The public will need to accept, and adapt to, significant changes in the goods and services they consume. Many are still unaware of and unprepared for the changes required, especially in the way they heat their homes, to ensure we can reach net zero by 2050. Government and businesses must do more to inform and prepare the public for the changes that need to happen, or they risk the public turning against necessary decarbonisation.”

The full data tables for the polling can be found here.

UK government pumps £350 million into ‘green recovery’

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UK industry will receive around £350 million to cut down carbon emissions under new plans to step up efforts to tackle climate change.

The multimillion pound investment package will build on progress towards the UK’s target to reach net zero by 2050, by helping businesses to decarbonise across the heavy industry, construction, space and transport sectors and to secure the UK’s place at the forefront of green innovation.

The investment came ahead of the PM launching the first meeting of the Jet Zero Council, which will bring together government, representatives from the environmental sector and the aviation and aerospace industry to tackle aviation emissions in line with the government’s ambition to achieve the first ever zero emission long haul passenger plane.

The projects set to receive funding will work on developing new technologies that could help companies switch to more energy-efficient means of production, use data more effectively to tackle the impacts of climate change, and help support the creation of new green jobs by driving innovation and growth in UK industries.

The package includes:

  • £139 million to cut emissions in heavy industry by supporting the transition from natural gas to clean hydrogen power, and scaling up carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology which can stop over 90% of emissions being released from industrial plants into the air by storing carbon permanently underground
  • £149 million to drive the use of innovative materials in heavy industry; the 13 initial projects will include proposals to reuse waste ash in the glass and ceramics industry, and the development of recyclable steel
  • £26 million to support advanced new building techniques in order to reduce build costs and carbon emissions in the construction industry
  • A £10 million boost for state of the art construction tech which will go towards 19 projects focused on improving productivity and building quality, for example, re-usable roofs and walls and “digital clones” of buildings that analyse data in real time
  • Launching a New National Space Innovation Programme backed by £15 million initial funding from the UK Space Agency, which will see the first £10million go towards projects that will monitor climate change across the globe, which could protect local areas from the impacts of extreme weather by identifying changes in the environment
  • Opening up bids for a further £10million for R&D in the automotive sector, to help companies take cutting edge ideas from prototype to market, including more efficient electric motors or more powerful batteries

Chaired by the Transport and Business Secretaries, the first Jet Zero council meeting discussed how to decarbonise the aviation sector while supporting its growth and strengthening the UK’s position as a world leader in the sector.

The members will look at how to work across their sectors to achieve these goals, including through brand new aircraft and engine technologies. These could include using new synthetic and sustainable aviation fuels as a clean substitute for fossil jet fuel, and eventually the development of electric planes.

The government says that over the past decade, the UK has cut carbon emissions by more than any similar developed country. In 2019, UK emissions were 42% lower than in 1990.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We’ve made great strides towards our net zero target over the last year, but it’s more important than ever that we keep up the pace of change to fuel a green, sustainable recovery as we rebuild from the pandemic.

“The UK now has a huge opportunity to cement its place at the vanguard of green innovation, setting an example worldwide while growing the economy and creating new jobs.

“That’s why we’re backing cutting edge research to cut costs and carbon across our great British industries, and even paving the way for the first ever zero emission long haul passenger flight – so that our green ambitions remain sky high as we build back better for both our people and our planet.”

Business and Energy Secretary, Alok Sharma, said: “Climate change is among the greatest challenges of our age. To tackle it we need to unleash innovation in businesses across the country.

“This funding will reduce emissions, create green collar jobs and fuel a strong, clean economic recovery – all essential to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.”

Image by Steppinstars from Pixabay 

Government pledges £80 million to help cut emissions from homes and industry

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng has announced nearly £80 million of government investment to help cut carbon emissions from homes and energy intensive businesses.

The funding will be invested in a wide range of programmes, including pioneering heat network trials and an innovative new programme to bring down the cost of retrofitting residential properties with the latest energy efficiency technologies.

Funds announced include:

  • £30 million towards the first phase of the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (IETF), which supports energy intensive manufacturers, like car factories and steel plants, to cut their carbon footprint
  • £25 million for heat networks, which reduce carbon and cut heating bills for customers, including one which will harness geothermal water sitting in disused mines to heat 1,250 homes
  • £24 million for innovative projects to help develop energy efficient homes by installing green tech and insulation in houses

Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said: “We want to invest now to ensure we continue to propel the UK towards a stronger, greener future. This new £80 million investment will help to reduce emissions across our economy, which will save people money on energy bills and protect jobs in heavy industry.”

Phase 1 of the IETF is worth an initial £30 million in support of the manufacturing sector. The fund allows companies with high energy use to apply for grants to install technology that reduces their energy bills and cuts carbon emissions.

Worth an eventual £289 million in England, Wales and Northern Ireland up until 2024, the IETF also seeks to help bring down the costs of technologies that reduce energy consumption and emissions in heavy industrial processes.

£25 million will go towards heat networks, including one in Gateshead, which will harness hot geothermal water sitting in disused mines to heat 1,250 homes. With thousands of redundant mine shafts criss-crossing the country, experts say that if the mine shaft technology proves successful and economically viable, it could be scaled up to power around 6 million homes around Britain.

The final £24 million green homes investment will comprise of:

  • £7.7 million to install green technology and insulation in over 300 council houses, to bring down the cost of retrofitting homes – with pilot projects in Cornwall, Nottingham, and Sutton
  • £14.6 million to pilot the roll-out of innovative heat pumps to 750 homes in the South East of Scotland, the South East of England and Newcastle
  • £1.8 million to support the development of innovative green home finance products by lenders.

The announcements today form part of the wider efforts to ensure the UK meets its legally binding target to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

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