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Greening The UK: Sector Responds To PM's 10-Point Plan

Jackie Bennion

19 November 2020

Casting the UK as the new centre for green technology and finance, Boris Johnson yesterday unveiled a 10-point plan to get the country to net zero emissions by 2050 and on a new footing for decades of economic growth. Already stirring controversy is his ambitious plan to ban the sale of all petrol and diesel cars by 2030 and scale up nuclear power.

Into this green industrial vision the government said it will pour £12 billion of investment, and believes it will attract up to three times that from the private sector, with the goal of creating 250,000 UK green jobs. Before moving on to wealth manager's responses....

What is in the PM's 10-point plan?
1. — The UK will become the Saudi Arabia of wind with enough offshore capacity to power every home by 2030.
2. —  Provide up to £500 million in hydrogen investment.
3. — Take forward plans for new nuclear power, from large scale to small and advanced modular reactors.
4. — Invest around £2.8 billion in electric vehicles, including a network of charging points, and produce long-lasting batteries in UK gigafactories.
5. — Create cleaner public transport, including thousands of green buses and hundreds of miles of new cycle lanes.
6. — Look to repeat Jack Alcock and Teddie Brown’s first nonstop transatlantic flight a century ago, with a zero emission plane. And do the same with ships.
7. — Invest £1 billion in 2021 to make homes, schools and hospitals greener, and energy bills lower.
8. — Establish a carbon capture and storage industry, backed by £1 billion of government investment for clusters across the North, Wales and Scotland.
9. — Absorb carbon by planting 30,000 hectares of trees a year by 2025 and rewild 30,000 football pitches’ worth of countryside.
10. — Use £1 bllion energy innovation fund to commercialise new low-carbon technologies, such as the world’s first liquid air battery being developed in Trafford, and make the City of London the global centre for green finance through a sovereign bond, carbon offset markets, and disclosure requirements.  

The UK government isn’t alone in wanting to lead a post-COVID green recovery, but the fact remains that any government investment will need heavy backing from the private sector and individual investors to meet its targets.

While reactions were largely positive, Luke Davis, CEO of SME investment house , a specialist in global renewable energy infrastructure projects, also welcomed the announcement, but said it doesn't go far enough.

An energy transition thought through
"The pledge to quadruple offshore wind power in a decade is an admirable goal, but it is important the UK ensures the infrastructure to store and carry this power to our homes is put in place. The UK's electricity network requires investment as it was not originally designed to accommodate these modern, renewable sources of energy, nor store the extra capacity generated on particularly sunny or windy days."

He suggested that the government should address this issue "before grandiose plans are put in place to increase the amount of renewable energy being pumped into an ageing system. Likewise, the announced funding for nuclear power raises its own problems, particularly how we plan to handle and store masses of waste that will remain highly radioactive for thousands of years."

The UK is taking steps in the right direction, Lum said, "but all governments must take a realistic approach to the energy transition, not just on a country-by-country basis but by working with partners around the world."