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‘Good step forward for climate action’ – Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership responds to Prime Minister's Ten Point Plan 

last modified Nov 23, 2020 12:16 PM
18 November 2020 – Prime Minister Boris Johnson released details of his Ten Point Plan for a UK green recovery yesterday evening. The roadmap towards decarbonisation of the economy and regeneration of nature comes one year before the UK hosts the COP26 climate summit.

The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) welcomes the Government's new Ten Point Plan and suggests the proposals are a firm foundation to get the UK on track for net zero by 2050.   

Eliot Whittington, Director of Policy, CISL, and Director of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group said:

“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 UK was one of the first countries in the world to raise the standard of climate action, and with some of the world’s best scientists, most active NGOs, and most progressive companies we have taken major strides towards creating a zero-carbon economy. This announcement outlines UK ambitions for leading climate action as hosts of next year’s COP26 summit and sets a good example for other countries to follow.   

“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.    

“Of course, with climate impacts increasing and other countries accelerating their ambitions there will need to be further action.  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.”  

Overview analysis  

  • The breadth of the plan – covering changes required in the whole economy, including energy, transport, homes, industry, finance and nature – is the right response to the climate challenge 

  • The focus on investment and jobs links climate action to the pandemic response in a ‘green recovery’ package as businesses are calling for – particularly welcome is the focus on levelling up key locations  

  • The scale of the resources provided are significant but much of this has been previously announced or trailed and it’s unclear how much of this is new resource

  • The overall focus is on the economy with no new finance-specific measures announced. Rather the financial sector is seen to play a supporting role in its key function of underpinning the rewiring of economy 

  • The risk of climate impacts and resilience of the economy have not been significantly addressed beyond resource for flood and coastal defences  

  • Measures to support public engagement and participation are also not well represented in the plan  

  • There is limited detail available so far and some actions are not long term enough - notably support for improving home energy efficiency  

  • These resources will support solutions and advance action, but that should enable, not replace joined up strategy to deliver necessary systemic changes – e.g. addressing the incentives that drive the degradation of nature, or unlock more circular use of materials. Many of those strategies still need to be clarified 

  • There is a wider context – uncertainty around Brexit may undermine the delivery of some of the government’s aims 

Energy  

  • The commitment to significantly expanding offshore wind has been previously announced but is significant and welcome  

  • Support for energy innovation is positive  

  • Support for nuclear power and hydrogen is important. There is value in a diverse energy mix, and the Climate Change Committee clearly support additional low carbon power generation beyond renewables, which will be the dominant power generation technology. Given the increasing dominance of new renewables and declining costs the government will have to ensure that pays close attention to value for money and system integration as it supports other options.  

  • There remains a need for a joined-up strategy for energy and power generation -but the government have put in place several of the key elements to support such a strategy 

 Housing  

  • Significant new funds for home energy efficiency with the extension of the Green Homes Grant. However, this is only for one year which will not create enough certainty for significant investment from the private sector to increase capacity as required.   

  • Clear support for both hydrogen and heat pumps will help businesses supporting these solutions invest and develop these solutions  

Transport  

  • Welcome confirmation of the rumoured 2030 phase out date for petrol and diesel cars combined with significant investment in the roll out of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure  

  • Also clearly reiterates support for active travel and buses  

  • Despite having all the elements there’s still a need for strategic joined up approach to transport – with these resources in place such a strategy has much more potential to succeed.  

  • Welcome consultation on the phase out of diesel HGVs  

  • Investment in developing clean maritime solutions is welcome  

  • Support for hydrogen could enable clean aviation – otherwise no new support or action to enable change in this sector  

Innovation  

  • Clearly supports noted priorities such as CCS, hydrogen and energy innovation, noting need for innovation for decarbonisation and modernisation of sectors like industry, shipping and aviation  

  • Limited visibility of the need to deliver systemic innovation - not just bringing forward new technologies but also enabling new business models and approaches 

Nature and land use  

  • Support for green spaces, nature conservation and tree planting is important and welcome  

  • There is a need to leverage these resources as part of a wider strategy to ensure UK land use works to restore and protect nature – in particular there needs to be clear incentives to align agriculture with net zero and the restoration of nature. 

Dr Gemma Cranston, Director, Business and Nature Team, CISL said:

“It is welcome to see the UK Government’s inclusion of protecting and restoring our natural environment in recognition that nature supports our economy as well as our cultural, physical and mental health. The significance of biodiversity and nature in the regeneration of the climate and our environment cannot be overstated, nor can the amount of work needed to correct the damage.   

“Tree planting, expanding green spaces and increasing national parks play an important role but it needs to be recognised that these alone will not result in the UK going far enough in delivering its ambitions to protect and restore our natural environment. Significantly, the UK’s green recovery strategy must be bolder and go further, conserving and investing in nature at scale whilst also undertaking the shift needed to align agriculture with a net zero and regenerative agenda. This can then start the system of incentivisation needed to both protect and restore our environment. 

“This incentivisation and scale could be in the form of a suitable market that identifies a clear demand from business, government and finance for ecosystem services and enables the delivery of these ecosystem services from landowners and managers.  

“The UK has the opportunity to show bold leadership, building on this Ten Point Plan, not only for next year’s climate summit, but also for the parallel UN biodiversity summit where Prime Minister Boris Johnson can set the agenda for how to protect and restore our natural environment, working in partnership with business, finance and society.”  

Green finance

Dr Nina Seega, Research Strategy Director, Centre for Sustainable Finance, CISL said:

Last week’s announcements of green gilts issuance, speeding up the introduction of mandatory disclosures as well as a set date for climate stress tests were all steps in the right direction 

Following these measures, the Ten Point Plan emphasises the core function of finance as supporting the transition of the economy as a whole. As such, this announcement underlines the importance of rewiring the financial system to enable such a transformation to take place. We look forward to further detail on the finance and innovation component of the plan to understand the level of ambition behind the plan. 

 

Social engagement  

  • To deliver on many of these goals and aims business and government will need to support and enable public engagement through outreach, training and consensus building. This area is not included in the plan.  


Learn more about CISL's policy research.

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