36 things you need to know about the Government’s response to the Skidmore Net-Zero Review
The Government has published a detailed response to each of the 129 policy recommendations made in Chris Skidmore’s Independent Review of the Net-Zero Strategy. Here, edie outlines 36 key developments that the Government is making (or ignoring) in response.
The Net-Zero Growth Plan has been published today (30 March) marking Green Day, which acts as the Government’s official response to the Independent Review on the Net-Zero Strategy, which was led by Chris Skidmore. That Review detailed 129 recommendations across key sectors such as the built environment, renewable energy, green finance and nature.
The new document also fulfils a statutory obligation to respond to the Climate Change Committee’s (CCC’s) 2022 Progress Report to Parliament; and details a carbon budget delivery update. The Government also claims the 126-page report will outline what steps will be introduced to “strengthen the delivery” of the UK’s net-zero goal.
There has been a flurry of announcements, including new Green Finance and Energy Security strategies, and it can be hard to keep up with what the Government is actually announcing. Indeed, Carbon Brief has found that 44 documents have been published on Green Day, consisting of more than 2,840 pages. Check out their handy cheat sheet with links to every document here.
One of the documents published today is a 67-page response to the Skidmore Review, covering each of the 129 recommendations and what the Government plans to do moving forward. Here, edie rounds up the key changes.
- The Government notes that numerous publications it has issued today are in direct response to some of the recommendations made by the Skidmore Review. This includes the 2023 Green Finance Strategy and the Energy Security Strategy.
- The Government “will explore the design of funding schemes for net zero projects ahead of the next Spending Review” following concerns that the broad range of funding schemes available makes it confusing for businesses to know where to apply.
- The Skidmore Review suggests that the Government set up a new forum for industry regulators such as Ofgem and Ofwat to strengthen the net-zero transition. The Government “agrees a forum across all net zero regulators would strengthen coordination further”. A detailed proposal will be set up later in 2023 with the assistance of the UK Regulators’ Network (UKRN) to ensure this new forum builds on and works in conjunction with existing networks.
- The Skidmore Review calls on Government to set up new ‘Net Zero select committees’ in both Houses of Parliament. The Government has responded by claiming that select committee creation is “a matter for Parliament”, but that it was awaiting the creation of the new Energy and Net Zero Select Committee.
- One of the key asks of the Skidmore Review was to set up ‘Office for Net Zero Delivery’ by Spring 2023, to ensure that the cross-departmental priorities for net zero are properly managed. The Government claims that the newly formed Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has the capabilities to fulfil that role.
- The Government has also responded to requests for better engagement exercises with businesses on date disclosure. It claims that the 2023 Green Finance Strategy sets out how it will “engage with business to define their data needs through the work of the newly-established Net Zero Business & Investment Group”. The Government will also work with the FCA, the document states, to ensure transition plan requirements are delivered across the financial services sector alongside requirements for listed and private companies.
- The Government also confirms that a green taxonomy – one of the requests in the Skidmore Review – is consulted on in Autumn this year. It reiterates that the Government proposes that nuclear will be included within the UK’s Green Taxonomy.
- However, the Government “does not believe that it is necessary” to update Ofgem’s remit to incorporate the net zero target as set out in the 2008 Climate Change Act, which was requested by the Skidmore Review
- The Government accepts the Independent Review of Net Zero recommendation that it should commit to outlining a clear approach to gas vs. electricity ‘rebalancing’ by the end of 2023/4 and should make significant progress affecting relative prices by the end of 2024.
- The Government has confirmed it will develop and publish a solar roadmap to 2035 to support the significant increase in deployment needed to achieve a 70GW ambition.
- However, the Government “does not consider it to be the right time to establish an onshore wind taskforce”.
- As reported in the Energy Security Strategy, the Government is establishing Great British Nuclear (GBN), including launching an SMR focused technology selection process.
- On the topic of accelerating the rollout of smart meters, the document “accepts the recommendation that the Government should continue to set ambitious targets for the remaining years of the smart meter” targets. Earlier this year, Government published proposals for energy supplier smart meter installation requirements in 2024 and 2025.
- Responding to calls to set up a 10-year plan for hydrogen production the Government has stated it will “develop a hydrogen production delivery roadmap by the end of the year”.
- On hydrogen gas trials, the wording is a little less ambitious. The document states that Government will “develop evidence on the feasibility, costs and benefits of converting gas networks to hydrogen” with a view to having hydrogen heating capacity by 2026 and it would “continue to assess new evidence”.
- Government has committed to publishing a Biomass Strategy in 2023
- The Government has declined one key recommendation to move the end date for routine flaring from 2030 to 2025. The Government claims that the 2030 target is “already challenging” due to the costs of retrofitting needed to meet its current goals.
- The Government has rejected the recommendation that tax treatments for North Sea licensing and operations could be used to set up a net-zero fund.
- Following on from the £20bn carbon capture announcement during the Budget, the Government’s response to the Skidmore review claims that a sectoral plan for UK CCUS will be set out later this year.
- The Government is setting up a joint government-industry Net Zero Power and Networks Workforce Action Plan. Further detail is coming later in the Spring.
- When asked to legislate by 2025 for the minimum energy efficiency rating for all nondomestic buildings, both rented and owned, to be EPC B, to be implemented by 2030, the Government responded by stating “our intention is that from 2025, the Future Buildings Standard will produce extremely efficient non-domestic buildings, which are ‘zero carbon ready’”.
- When called to provide more support for SMEs, the Government stated “in addition to the UK Business Climate Hub, we are working to deliver an SME energy advice service on GOV.UK. We expect to have this up and running by the end of 2023.”
- The Government has remained firm on its plans for packaging, despite calls for accelerated action. It announced that Government will be introducing packaging Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) from 2024 across the UK, and a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) from October 2025 across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- Government has published a consultation on the proposed ZEV mandate regulations, to apply from 2024.
- The Growth Plan commits the Government to publish a Low Carbon Fuels Strategy this year, based on the Skidmore Review recommendation. This plan will spell out the role that these fuels will play in reaching net-zero by 2050.
- Confirms that the Transport Bill is still delayed and that they are “exploring” the ways they can bring it forward.
- Government will develop a “harmonised approach for measuring carbon emissions on farms and by 2024 will outline how farmers will be supported to understand their emission sources through carbon audits”.
- The Government has declined the recommendation to introduce a statutory duty for local authorities to take account of the UK’s net zero targets when planning.
- The Government has committed to exploring eco-labelling for the embodied emissions of industrial products and is currently consulting on how labelling could support demand for low carbon products. Government will also work the Food Data Transparency Partnership to develop similar metrics for food labelling.
- The Government is putting in place a number of measures to reach the ambition for 600,000 heap pump installation annually from 2028.
- Government confirmed it is “overhauling the building physics model underpinning EPCs” for housing and heating to better support net zero. A consultation on this new model is scheduled for later in 2023.
- Government confirmed that the Boiler Upgrade Scheme will be extended to 2028.
- When asked to develop a roadmap for R&D and net-zero related technologies, the Government accepted the recommendation, claiming it is “currently considering options for what format this roadmap should take to be the most effective given the different potential pathways to net zero by 2050”.
- The Government notes that decarbonising industry cannot be “undermined by carbon leakage” and has today launched an “Addressing Carbon Leakage Risk to Support Decarbonisation” consultation.
- Government accepts the recommendation to set out a long term pathway for the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and has committed to running it until at least 2050.
- The Government will consult on the “specific steps and interventions” needed to support the growth of high integrity voluntary markets and protect against greenwashing.
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It should be emphasised that the great difference between natural gas and hydrogen, is that the first gives us nearly all its available energy (little is used in its “production”), but ALL of the energy available in hydrogen has been placed there in its production. Hydrogen does not occur terrestrially as a gas.
There is no free lunch.