The government has recently published its Clean Growth Strategy as the UK further commits to reducing greenhouse gas emissions on a national scale. This in-depth document from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which outlines the government’s proposed approach to creating a lower-carbon future for the UK, can be looked at from cover to cover by clicking this link.
At 165 pages though, it can be quite a daunting document to read through entirely. Fortunately, specialist business gas supplier Flogas Britain has summarised the key points of the strategy and what they mean for homes and businesses across the UK in the following guide:
The UK’s current climate change commitment
The government’s Clean Growth Strategy came about as a result of legislation introduced in 2008. This legislation was the arrival of the Climate Change Act to the UK — a process which saw the nation become the first in the world to self-impose a legally binding carbon reduction target. The crux of it? To reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels).
It appears that the UK is set to meet this target though, with BEIS figures released in March 2017 revealing that overall carbon emissions across the nation have decreased by 42% since 1990. While this progress is encouraging, the government acknowledges that there is still plenty more work to be done – and that’s where proposals like the Clean Growth Strategy come in.
The main objectives of the Clean Growth Strategy
The Clean Growth Strategy details a series of policies and proposals which collectively aim to speed up the process of ‘clean growth’ across the UK by first decreasing emissions and secondly increasing economic growth. With that in mind, the two guiding objectives underpinning the strategy are:
- To meet our domestic commitments at the lowest possible net cost to UK taxpayers, consumers and businesses.
- To maximise the social and economic benefits for the UK from this transition.
The government is committed to rolling out lower-carbon systems, technologies and processes throughout the UK in order for these objectives to be achieved. At the same time though, the government is also determined to find the most cost-effective way possible for homes and businesses alike to benefit from these lower-carbon solutions.
“We need to do this for several reasons,” it is stated within the Clean Growth Strategy document. “First, we need to protect our businesses and households from high energy costs. Second, if we can develop low cost, low carbon technologies in the UK, we can secure the most industrial and economic advantage from the global transition to a low carbon economy. Third, if we want to see other countries, particularly developing countries, follow our example, we need low carbon technologies to be cheaper and to offer more value than high carbon ones.”
The key proposals of the Clean Growth Strategy
There are six key areas focused on within the proposals set out in the Clean Growth Strategy. These are collectively responsible for 100% of the UK’s carbon emissions and are as follows:
- Improving business and industry efficiency (25% of UK emissions)
- Improving our homes (13% of UK emissions)
- Accelerating the shift to low-carbon transport (24% of UK emissions)
- Delivering clean, smart, flexible power (21% of UK emissions)
- Enhancing the benefits and value of our natural resources (15% of UK emissions)
- Leading the public sector (2% of UK emissions)
Those with a keen interest in the property market will be intrigued to hear that the proposal to improve UK homes includes support to upgrade around one million homes through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), as well as a commitment to get as many homes as possible to be Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Band C by 2035. There are also plans to improve the energy performance standards of homes which are privately rented, strengthen the energy performance standards for all new and existing homes under Building Regulations and offer all households a smart meter by the time 2021 arrives.
Read this executive summary to learn more about all of the proposals detailed in the Clean Growth Strategy.
How the Clean Growth Strategy will affect homes and businesses across the UK
The objectives and proposals set out in the Clean Growth Strategy primarily are being used to encourage homes, businesses and those in charge of industrial operations to reduce their carbon footprint through a wide selection of strategies; with plenty of support being offered by the government too. A major focus will be reassessing the fuels we use for jobs like heating, cooking, and powering industrial and manufacturing processes – and embracing cleaner, greener alternatives.
In the long term, renewable technologies stand a good chance of becoming more appealing (including biomass boilers, heat pumps and solar panels), as do the use of cleaner conventional fuels as opposed to more polluting alternatives. For example, for off-grid homes and businesses, the strategy sets out specific plans to phase out high-carbon forms of fossil fuels like oil. As the lowest-carbon conventional off-grid fuel, oil to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) conversions will play a key part in replacing oil in rural parts of the country.
Homes and businesses which are connected to the mains network should also see natural gas remaining a popular choice. This is not only because of its affordability and accessibility, but also because it is the lowest-carbon fossil fuel available.
Flogas, which specialises in highly competitive commercial mains gas, expects to see this part of its business continue to go from strength to strength. The company is also predicting that the ‘green gas’ phenomenon (natural gas injected with a proportion of environmentally friendly biogas) will grow in popularity as the Clean Growth Strategy rolls out.
What is the initial reaction to the Clean Growth Strategy?
A number of key industry figures have already provided their support to the government’s Clean Growth Strategy since it was unveiled.
“Oil & Gas UK welcomes the government’s commitment to technology in the strategy, especially with regards to carbon abatement measures such as carbon capture, usage and storage,” acknowledged Mike Tholen, the Upstream Policy Director at trade body Oil & Gas UK. “Oil & Gas UK looks forward to working with the government to see how these technologies can further reduce emissions across the economy.”
Flogas’ Managing Director Lee Gannon also commented: “Through the publication of its Clean Growth Strategy, the government has made clear its intention to reduce carbon emissions from off-grid UK homes and businesses. Natural gas is affordable, versatile, widely available and – most importantly – emits significantly less carbon than the likes of coal and oil. As such, it will continue to play a central role as the UK works towards cleaning up its energy landscape.
“We look forward to working alongside policymakers and wider industry stakeholders to make the Clean Growth Strategy the success that it deserves to be.”