Bim Afolami MP’s speech and energy efficiency post-Covid-19: What happened on Day Two of Net-Zero Live 2020?

MP Bim Afolami (top left) provided the opening keynote speech from his home

For the first time ever, edie’s flagship Net-Zero Live event is being held virtually. The second day of the three-day conference, hosted in association with EDF Energy, was (digitally) jam-packed as hundreds of attendees took part in open roundtables, polls and speed networking. The day’s overarching theme was Net-Zero Carbon, with sessions spotlighting the energy transition in particular.

Conservative MP Bim Afolami, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group (PRASEG), kick-started the day’s proceedings with a keynote speech about the intersections of climate action with economic growth and better lifestyles.

He applied his learnings from his career in politics to outline three priorities for delivering a net-zero transition in the energy sector which would receive sweeping support from businesses and the public.

BEIS’s priority should be “rewiring” the UK’s industrial base to electrify as many sectors as possible, as soon as possible, he argued. Afolami also spoke of his wish to see the government “throwing its full weight” behind wind power and nuclear and “completing an aggressive shift” in the tax burden, to ensure a just transition.

“The good news is that I know – having spoken with him recently – that the Chancellor is absolutely full square behind [the green recovery] and the Prime Minister is full square behind it,” Afolami said. “And the election of Joe Biden in the US is very important… because this is one main area where the US and UK will be able to work very closely together. We must always consider climate in an international sense.”

“On this particular issue (net-zero), there is probably the least amount of disagreement across the House… the debates people have are about the means and the speed rather than whether we should do something at all. There are very few areas of politics that are like this.”

Directly after Afolami’s speech, attendees watched speakers from Energy UK, the Renewable Energy Association (REA), the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) and Landsec debating the challenges and opportunities of energy management during Covid-19 and beyond.

The panellists highlighted the importance of forthcoming policy packages like the Energy White Paper and Heat and Buildings Strategy in helping businesses carry forward the momentum of the climate activism “wave” of 2019 into the coming decades. They also provided best-practice advice on energy management in the working-from-home economy. The mood was certainly lively and optimistic.

“Energy management has never been a more important topic,” the REA’s chief executive Nina Skorupska said. “The green revolution, coined by the government and supported by ourselves, is now the way forward. The roles that have to be played aren’t just filled by the renewable energy developers that I represent… it’s about every walk of society playing its role.”

Masterclasses and open roundtables

While we may not be able to hold conferences in person at this moment in time, Net-Zero Live 2020 features a number of interactive sessions, including 45-minute masterclasses and open roundtable discussions.

Day Two’s masterclasses saw experts from Multiplex and Inspired Energy helping attendees to tackle Scope 3 emissions – which, according to CDP, are five-and-a-half times higher for the average business than direct emissions – and experts from Chapter Zero and SMS providing advice on gaining financial buy-in for key low-carbon projects.

Multiplex’s Pavan Patel and Inspired Energy’s Daniel Crowe spoke about the importance of 1:1 workshops with suppliers, working with the Science-Based Targets initiative and knowing how to estimate where your primary data is not strong. In the other virtual room, Chapter Zero’s Sam Baker and SMS’s Sean Keating highlighted the importance of making the economic and public health benefits of decarbonisation clear to your board.

The last sessions of the day were two open roundtables – the first on flexible energy and the second on the net-zero transition for buildings and transport. These are two of the UK’s largest sources of emissions and two sectors deemed hard-to-abate.

In the first roundtable, topics ranged from changing policies on battery storage, to flexible energy skills, to the challenge of going beyond pilots to scale up emerging innovations. To this latter point, Northern Powergrid’s Anda Baumerte said progress has “reached a tipping point”, whereby innovations which currently exist on the fringes of the debate will “soon become business-as-usual”.

In the second roundtable, the consensus was that lockdown has provided an opportunity for businesses, local authorities and policymakers to pause and rethink buildings and transport at the systems level. They predicted that more flexible ways of working will likely continue, and that the drive to maintain the air quality improvements of recent months will result in more walking, cycling and journeys by electric vehicle – particularly shared vehicles.

Please note: Recordings of the Day Two sessions will be made available to registered attendees shortly.

Join the conversation 

Registration is still open for Day Three (12 November) of Net-Zero Live. The event is free to attend and includes high-level keynote talks, interactive panel discussions, facilitated networking sessions and educational masterclasses, as well as virtual exhibition booths showcasing the cutting-edge net-zero technologies and services that will shape the decade ahead.

Register now to hear from representatives of Unilever, Timberland and many more. Click here for registration forms and for the agenda

edie Staff

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie