Claire Perry: Clean Growth Strategy will set ‘decarbonisation pathway’ across UK economy

The Government's long-anticipated Clean Growth Strategy launches tomorrow (12 October), and the Minister of State for Climate Change Claire Perry has vowed to "march on a decarbonisation pathway" across the entire UK economy to meet national carbon commitments.

The Clean Growth Strategy will set out how the Government intends to meet the fifth carbon budget, which seeks to limit the UK’s annual emissions to 57% below 1990 levels by the year 2032. The release of the Plan was first scheduled for 2016 but was delayed numerous times by both the Brexit vote and the 2017 General Election.

However, speaking at a Carbon Trust event in London today (11 October), climate change minister Claire Perry noted that the plan would be released tomorrow, and would set the regulatory frameworks to enable the UK to “continue to lead the world in this incredible low-carbon journey”.

“There are still substantial challenges ahead,” Perry said. “In order to go further to meet our carbon budgets and our Paris targets we need to march now on a decarbonisation pathway right across the economy and right across the Government.

“We are entirely committed to this low carbon future, and it will focus on the importance of innovation, the role of the private sector, and the vital importance of us working together to solve these carbon challenges. Government can’t do it alone, and Government shouldn’t do it alone, and we need everybody to participate and seize opportunities to build a prosperous UK.”

Perry’s confidence that the UK can lead the global decarbonisation transition is built on the fact that the UK has been more successful than any other G7 nation at decoupling emissions growth from that of the economy over the past 25 years.

The UK’s emissions intensity, the ratio between the level of economic growth and carbon dioxide, has fallen by 53.2% in that timeframe, although experts have warned that the UK will miss out on its future climate targets if decarbonisation isn’t accelerated in areas such as heat and transport.

Perry, who took over the ministerial role in June 2017, revealed that the launch of the Clean Growth Strategy would be accompanied by decarbonisation roadmaps up to 2050 for seven carbon-intensive industries, covering food and drink, paper & pulp, chemicals, ceramics, glass, cement and farming. Each plan contains voluntary commitments to reduce emissions while “maintaining international competitiveness”. 

‘Gold standard’ finance

With more than £13.5trn of public and private investment needed by 2030 to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement, Perry revealed her ambition for the UK to create a “gold standard” for accelerating green finance opportunities.

“We want to create finance mechanisms to help investors and we want deep investment opportunities,” Perry said. “There’s no gold standard of clarity on what constitutes green investment currently and if we can establish that using our leadership in this area we can really start to bolster this market.”

The Government will attempt to promote green finance growth by officially endorsing the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). This endorsement has already led to the creation of a Green Finance Taskforce to assist the low-carbon economy.

Investment will also be funnelled into low-carbon innovations to place the Clean Growth Strategy “at the heart” of Greg Clark’s Industrial Strategy. The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) already named the Carbon Trust as the overseer of a new £9.2m accelerator programme, and Perry claimed that the Industrial Strategy would “further the investment opportunities” into offshore wind by putting together an ambitious sector deal.

While the Clean Growth Strategy will set out numerous regulatory requirements, Perry noted that some will be less defined, instead aiming to “understand” how policies should be formed. The minister noted that there would be no new set of building practices, for example, until the review of fire safety regulations, issued after the Grenfell Tower disaster, had been resolved.

Matt Mace

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