Net zero strategy: The key climate policies in Boris Johnson’s plan

Electric cars, renewable power and low-carbon central heating included plan to beat climate change

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Tuesday 19 October 2021 18:21
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Boris Johnson’s government has published its long-awaited climate strategy, outlining how the UK plans to reach its target of net zero emissions by 2050.

The much-delayed document was unveiled on Tuesday ahead of the Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow.

But critics have been quick to warn the strategy, which runs to more than 360 pages, does not provide enough policies or investment to drive the transformation needed to reach net zero.

Here are the key takeaways from the document:

Boris Johnson is keen to persuade voters that Britain can go carbon neutral without pain. In a foreword to the document, he writes: “This strategy shows how we can build back greener without so much as a hair shirt in sight. In 2050, we will still be driving cars, flying planes and heating our homes, but our cars will be electric gliding silently around our cities, our planes will be zero emission allowing us to fly guilt-free, and our homes will be heated by cheap reliable power drawn from the winds of the North Sea.”

• The strategy document states that more than £26bn of government investment in a “green industrial revolution” will support 190,000 jobs by 2025, and 440,000 by 2030, while leveraging up to £90bn of private investment by 2030. This will help the UK meet its target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 68 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030 and delivering a “decarbonised economy” by 2050.

• The strategy commits the government to four principles: the net zero programme will “work with the grain of consumer choice” and will not force households to scrap existing boilers and cars; fair carbon pricing will ensure the biggest polluters pay most for the transition; the most vulnerable will be protected with financial support; government will work with business to deliver affordable low-carbon tech.

• The UK is planned to be powered entirely by clean electricity by 2035, “subject to security of supply”. This will involve the go-ahead for at least one new large-scale nuclear plant – and possibly two – by 2024, alongside 40GW of offshore wind power by 2030 and more onshore wind, solar and other renewables. A new £120m “future nuclear enabling fund” will develop technologies for smaller reactors, with Wylfa in north Wales among potential sites.

• The strategy commits £140m for a new hydrogen and industrial carbon capture business scheme, with industrial “clusters” in Teesside and the Humber, Merseyside and north Wales to become economic hubs for green jobs.

• It confirms the “ambition” to end sales of new gas boilers by 2035, with £450m to provide £5,000 grants for 90,000 households to switch to heat pumps.

• A “zero emission vehicle mandate” will be introduced to deliver on the commitment to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 and ensure that all cars are “zero emissions capable” by 2035. Funding of £620m will go towards zero emission vehicle grants and electric vehicle infrastructure, including on-street charging points. There will also be £3bn for bus networks and £2bn for cycling and walking. Trials will be undertaken of HGV zero-emission technology.

• The strategy sets out the “aim” of making Britain a world-leader in the zero emission fight.

• It says the government will restore around 280,000 hectares of peat in England by 2050 and treble woodland creation rates.

• Mortgage providers could be required to meet targets to improve the energy efficiency of the buildings on which they have provided loans – potentially making it more difficult for homeowners to secure mortgages without putting in insulation and other carbon-saving measures.

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