'An ambitious plan for a green industrial revolution': Reaction to Boris Johnson's Ten Point net-zero plan

Green groups have welcomed a new Ten Point Llan from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to deliver a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and build towards the net-zero emissions target, but the lack of a clear roadmap is dampening an otherwise monumental green policy moment.

The £12bn plan will support up to 250,000 green jobs, with the Government aiming to secure three times as much investment from the private sector by 2030

The £12bn plan will support up to 250,000 green jobs, with the Government aiming to secure three times as much investment from the private sector by 2030

Clean hydrogen, carbon capture and storage (CCS), zero-carbon transport and offshore wind are all key pillars of Boris Johnson’s Ten Point Plan to push the UK towards net-zero emissions, which will be backed by £12bn in Government investment and aim to create 250,000 new green jobs.

The Prime Minister’s highly anticipated plan was released late on Tuesday night (17 November), and signals a clear intention that the UK wants to be a world leader in an array of clean technologies. The plan is aimed at eradicating the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050, which has been enshrined into law as part of the net-zero emissions target.

The £12bn plan will support up to 250,000 green jobs, with the Government aiming to secure three times as much investment from the private sector by 2030. Find out about each individual point of the plan here.

Green groups have been quick to respond to one of the most ambitious and far-reaching legislative frameworks in recent times, with the majority noting that it provides much-needed certainty for sectors and corporates that the net-zero transition is well underway. However, calls still persist for the ambitions to be turned into an actionable roadmap to give sectors plans to work towards.

Here, edie rounds up some of the key reactions to the landmark Ten Point Plan.

Lord Deben, chairman, Climate Change Committee

“Today, the Prime Minister has laid out his vision for a net-zero UK. I am delighted to see the breadth of the Prime Minister’s commitment. This must now be turned into a detailed road map – so we all know what’s coming down the track in the years ahead.

“Our homes, the way we travel, our industries, our land, and all of us individually have a role to play as we strive to lead the world in tackling climate change. The good news is that we can also reap the rewards – improved health, a stronger economy, a boost for UK jobs and the ability to tell our children and grandchildren that the UK acted in time.”

 Chris Stark, chief executive, Climate Change Committee

“The plans announced today will transform Britain for the better, bringing new opportunities and new investment. This is our path out of the economic challenges created by the Covid-19 crisis. And it is a set of commitments that will raise the UK’s credibility ahead of the pivotal COP26 climate summit next year. This is just the tonic as we look to 2021.”

Eliot Whittington, director of policy, CISL, and Director of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group

“The Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan is a good step forward for climate action and the UK economy. Such a broad and all-encompassing set of plans and actions to accelerate climate action and build a sustainable competitive, zero-carbon economy is almost unprecedented. 

“The commitment to mobilise £12bn of investment and create 250,000 green jobs will help not only to rebuild the UK economy at a critical time, but also to accelerate UK emissions reduction over the coming decade. This aligns with action by leading UK businesses, who are setting out their own interim targets and plans to significantly reduce their emissions over the coming decade. We need to ensure resilience is built into these investments and they are delivered in alignment with the UK’s net-zero goal. These moves need to be built on and developed, and as we move towards COP26, there is room to develop this plan into a comprehensive long-term strategy for the UK that sets clear policy directions and take us beyond short-term actions. But today’s announcement provides a firm foundation for strong UK climate leadership."

Melanie Onn, deputy chief executive, RenewableUK

"The Prime Minister has set out an ambitious plan for a new green industrial revolution, with low-cost renewable energy at its heart. The UK’s success in wind power puts us in a prime position to be a global leader across a whole suite of clean-tech industries, from EVs to renewable hydrogen, where we can create new UK supply chains to export our goods and expertise around the world.    

“We know that reaching net-zero emissions is going to mean transforming our energy system and large parts of our economy, and the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan is a vital step forward. Industry and Government are work closely together to secure the of billions in private investment in clean energy infrastructure, and the tens of thousands of high-quality green jobs across the UK to build it”.

David Smith, chief executive, Energy Networks Association

“The Prime Minister’s ambitious plan brings together the key elements that will help us to take effective climate action and deliver a green economic recovery. We not only welcome the plans to turbocharge the roll-out of electric vehicles, level-up offshore wind, and commit to a hydrogen bonanza, but look forward to delivering them - supporting skilled, green jobs and cutting the country's emissions at best value and least disruption to the public.”

Frank Gordon, head of policy, REA

“This is a major day for the building of green industries in the UK. The electric vehicle charging infrastructure sector stands ready to roll-out enough charge points to meet demand so long as a supportive regulatory regime is in place. 

Renewable transport fuels will play a critical and complementary role to this policy, and will be needed in greater volumes to ensure that we maximise emissions reductions from the millions of petrol and diesel cars and vans already on our roads, not just from new ones While we welcome the extension of the Green Homes Grant, we also believe it should be extended to cover more technologies such as energy storage and thermal batteries. Additionally, it is great to see the role of Organics recognised in protecting and restoring the natural environment.”

Shaun Spiers, executive director, The Green Alliance

“It’s great to see the prime minister showing leadership ahead of the Glasgow climate summit next year by putting the industries of the future at the heart of his economic strategy. There’s still plenty of detail to examine, but these plans include bold and ambitious steps that will create jobs and sustain communities in towns and cities across the UK for generations, as well as protecting the planet. All eyes are now on the Treasury to deliver on these promises.”

Luke Warren, chief executive, Carbon Capture and Storage Association

“This is a really ambitious and serious commitment to carbon capture and hydrogen by the Government and one we really welcome. By investing in carbon capture hubs in all the main industrial regions of the country, the Government has today sent a strong signal ahead of COP26 – that the UK is committed to delivering net-zero and becoming a world leader in the key technologies that will be essential to achieve these goals. 

“This is the start of a really exciting era for the development of carbon capture in the UK and there is an incredible amount of work that is needed to enable these targets to be reached. However, the CCUS industry stands ready to work with Government to deliver these targets and ensure that the UK does become a global leader in this crucial technology”.

Early reaction from key businesses also welcomes the certainty that the 10-point plan will provide the private sector. Of significant importance to corporates is the 2030 deadline for sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles.

Andy Wales, chief digital impact and sustainability officer, BT

“We welcome today’s announcement by the UK Government to phase out internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2030. Switching to zero-emission vehicles is a key part of our decarbonisation strategy, which is why we joined forces with the Climate Group and 28 other organisations to launch the UK Electric Fleets Coalition. Together we’ve called for the transition to low emission vehicles to be accelerated alongside supportive policy measures which help to unlock infrastructure investment – helping to create a low carbon society and economy.”

Al Cook, executive vice president and UK country manager, Equinor

The new commitments in the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan on hydrogen and carbon capture are great news for the UK economy, for our climate ambitions, and for the future of our industrial heartlands and those who work there. As the UK's leading supplier of energy, we want to go further to help the UK meet net-zero targets and become a world-leader in these much-needed technologies.

“With our partners in the Humber we plan to invest in carbon capture and low carbon hydrogen to transform the UK's largest industrial cluster into its greenest cluster, while we also work with our partners in Teesside to decarbonise its industries, and the two clusters work together to develop the UK North Sea into a pioneering location for the safe storage of carbon emissions.”

Greg Jackson, founder and chief executive, Octopus Energy

 "These pledges are hugely welcome to help accelerate the UK's position at the forefront of the next Industrial Revolution - the Green Industrial Revolution. Wind power, heat pumps, electric vehicles are all going to help make our homes, our businesses and our nations cleaner, quieter and more comfortable whilst generating hundreds of thousands of jobs. Through new technology, such as automatically charging cars when green electrons are abundant we will make energy cheaper at the same time. Green energy is cheap energy, and clean jobs are great jobs"

While the reaction was largely supportive of the 10-point plan, some note that gaps remain in the form of a lack of support for established renewable technologies such as onshore wind and solar. In fact, industry analysis suggests that £33bn, rather than the £12bn committed by the Government will be required to deliver net-zero.

Nick Molho, executive director, the Aldersgate Group

"The Prime Minister is absolutely right that aligning the UK’s economic recovery strategy can create a significant number of jobs and bring much-needed investment to parts of the UK in urgent need of economic opportunities. The Ten Point Plan commitment to phase out the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 will send a decisive market signal and we welcome the commitments to extend the Green Homes Grant by a year and the increase ambition around hydrogen and carbon capture."

"However, to put the UK economy on a credible pathway for net-zero emissions, the Prime Minister must embed the net-zero target across all government departments and address the lack of long-term policy commitments that is still holding back progress in some parts of the economy. For example, the Ten Point Plan doesn't address the lack of regulatory drivers in buildings that is currently hampering private investment in energy efficiency and low carbon heat, and it does not recognise the urgent need to set up a well-capitalised national investment bank to grow investment in complex low carbon technologies. For the UK’s domestic policy commitments to be effective, the Government must also not lose sight of the fact that any future trade agreements must be fully supportive and consistent with the net-zero target.”

Mike Childs, head of policy Friends of the Earth

“Despite a number of positive commitments, the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan falls far short of the ambitious policy overhaul needed to demonstrate real global leadership on the climate crisis. A much bolder approach is needed if the UK is to create the hundreds of thousands of new green jobs and other benefits that building a cleaner, safer future will bring.

“While the phase-out of petrol and diesel cars and the pledge to build a much larger offshore wind industry are very welcome, the government must also encourage the development of onshore wind and commit to ending gas-fired heating in our homes. Without a much swifter switch to heat pumps the UK’s carbon commitments may not be met. We have the ability to build a zero-carbon future, but we need tough and urgent action from our politicians at all levels - and with the world spinning towards catastrophic climate change we don’t have time to waste.”

Luke Murphy, head of the IPPR Environmental Justice Commission 

"The government's commitment to a 2030 phase out for new petrol and diesel vehicles is a key milestone on the road to net-zero. The government should be applauded for taking such a bold step. The announcements of new investment in charging points for electric vehicles and support for battery manufacture are also to be welcomed. 

"However, what has been announced does not yet amount to the action and investment that is needed to get the UK on track for net-zero and restore nature. IPPR analysis has shown that the government is currently only investing a little over a tenth of the funds needed to meet net zero and restore nature, and what is being announced today will not bridge the gap. 

"While the new investment today is welcome, the government must also commit to investing the full £33bn that is needed each year to meet our climate goals. For instance, the target for the delivery of 600,000 heat pumps is welcome but is not underpinned by either the strategy or investment that is required to deliver it. The investment planned for sustainable public transport and nature are also still significantly short of what is needed." 

Dr Jonathan Marshall, head of analysis, Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU)

"These points tick off a number of the major policy decisions needed to get the UK demonstrably back on track to its net-zero target. Strong support for cleaning up transport, industry and home heating – areas long ignored by the Government – will help deliver on the urgent need to cut emissions shared by people in all corners of the UK.

“Bold action on electric transport, easily the biggest pro-climate action from a UK Government since hastening the end of coal power, will make huge ripples overseas, giving a signal to car manufacturers around the world that the future is green, and bolstering Britain’s standing ahead of the vital COP26 conference in late 2021, hosted by the UK in Glasgow.

 “However, gaps still remain. Onshore wind and solar energy remain unsupported, long shots such as modular nuclear power and direct air capture may not pay off, and natural solutions to climate change – planting trees and restoring peat bogs – remain largely overlooked and ignored."

Support for nuclear has proved a contentious part of the 10-point plan, however, those working within the industry are optimistic the technology can help deliver on the UK’s net-zero commitment.

Tom Greatrex, chief executive, Nuclear Industry Association

“The UK Government’s commitment to large, small and advanced nuclear as part of the future energy mix is an important pointer towards how we will achieve net-zero. All zero emissions technologies will need to play their part for net zero to become a reality. It is welcome to see the scale of that ambition recognised, with detail to come in the Energy White Paper, which will be vitally important.

“Meeting net zero while delivering long term, skilled jobs, economic growth and export potential are the opportunities for the country. Low carbon technology working together – not being pitted against each other – is the right approach to take. We welcome the Government setting a 2030 target for low-carbon hydrogen production. Nuclear power can produce clean, “green” hydrogen without any carbon emissions, so it has a critical role to play in developing the hydrogen economy.”

While the plan outlines steps as to how the UK will end its contribution to the climate crisis, some groups are still seeking more action on how overseas funding is being spent, especially in light of recent revelations that UK funds have supported fossil fuel projects in Africa.

Dr Kat Kramer, climate leader, Christian Aid

“It’s right that the Prime Minister is staking his reputation on his government’s climate policies. This leadership must continue all of the way through to next year’s crucial UN climate summit in Glasgow and beyond. The climate crisis is our greatest threat and poses acute danger to the world’s poorest people. That’s why the UK government must no longer use taxpayers money to fund fossil fuel projects overseas, while ushering in a new era of clean, green jobs at home.

“It’s mad for Boris Johnson to be calling on other nations to follow the UK’s lead and go net zero, yet at the same time, his own government is using UK Export Finance to help oil and gas projects to be built in those countries. The UK has the potential to use its post-Covid-19 stimulus to create a true green recovery that accelerates the decarbonisation of the economy and tackles climate change around the world. This means strong measures to improve our energy efficiency and to move rapidly towards using 100% renewable energy: there should be policies to manage the ending of the fossil fuel industry and to support green job creation, as part of a socially just transition.”

Mohamed Adow, director, Power Shift Africa

“Nowhere suffers more disproportionately from the climate crisis than Africa, so it’s good to see Boris Johnson stepping up and providing personal leadership on this issue. As hosts of the crucial UN climate summit next year in Glasgow it has a key role in securing a new era of global action to cut emissions and support those already suffering from climate breakdown. The eyes of the world will be on Britain.”

“Africa and the UK have had a troubled past, but Boris Johnson has always claimed that through the Commonwealth we have a strong bond. Yet the UK’s current and historic emissions are driving the climate misery being felt by many Africans. That’s why today’s announcements must just be the start of a new approach by the UK to not just cut their own emissions but help people in other countries suffering through no fault of their own. 

“If Boris Johnson wants to show Brexit Britain is on the side of Africa and other vulnerable countries, then taking a radical lead on the climate emergency would be a good start.”

Matt Mace



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