The government’s Clean Growth Strategy includes a wide range of measures designed to meet the UK’s legally binding commitment to cut emissions by 57% in the period 2028-2032, against 1990 levels. The newly published strategy forms the basis of carbon reduction policies, with a number of future actions and consultations designed to expand on these. Following a long wait for its publication, the new strategy has been widely welcomed. However, there is also criticism that it does not go far enough and concern regarding the planned use of “flexibilities”, which indicates that carbon offsets could be utilised to meet the UK’s commitments. Lord Deben of the Climate Change Committee said “We welcome the new thinking and ambition. We also recognise that the Government has identified areas where it will aim to do more and acknowledges there is work to be done to develop effective new policies”.
The key policy areas include developing world-leading green finance capabilities; improving business and industrial efficiency by at least 20% by 2030; and delivering clean, smart, and flexible power. The government reaffirmed its pledge to phase out unabated coal by 2025. Emissions from the power sector have already fallen by nearly 50% since 1990 as coal generation diminishes. The Clean Growth Strategy sets out a possible pathway to 2032, which sees low-carbon generation (renewables and nuclear) accounting for 80% of generation, compared to 50% today. This is combined with a system that helps consumers use energy more flexibility, and an improvement in energy efficiency, which helps to control demand. It is intended that the route to market for renewable technologies will be improved, for example with £557 million being made available for Pot 2 of the Contract for Differences auctions. The government’s intention is to increase economic growth while also cutting emissions. With that in mind, the government plans to monitor its progress via an energy intensity ratio (EIR), which measures greenhouse gases per unit of GDP. Currently, the EIR is 270 tonnes/£ million and it was 720 tonnes/£ million in 1990. By 2032, the government expects the EIR will need to be nearly as low as 100 tonnes/£ million.