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Industry responds to government 2050 net zero pledge

The UK government has acted on recent recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and announced that the UK will become the first major nation to commit to reaching a net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050.

The UK already has a 2050 target - to reduce emissions by 80 per cent - which was agreed by MPs under the Climate Change Act in 2008, but it will now be amended to the new, much tougher goal that will demand a big move away from carbon-based heating systems.

The move means that the UK is on track to become the first G7 country to legislate for net zero emissions, with other major economies expected to follow suit.

The UK will conduct a further assessment within five years to confirm that other countries are taking similarly ambitious action, multiplying the effect of the UK’s lead and ensuring its industries do not face unfair competition.

Despite acknowledging in the past that a shift to solely using heat pumps would be impractical, the Heat Pumps Association (HPA) is calling on the government to promote wider support for heat pumps as a technology that is widely understood, and is available now. This means the work towards hitting this new target can begin immediately, without the need to develop new technology.

Graham Wright, chairman of the HPA, said: “We are extremely encouraged by the government’s decision to cut the UK’s emissions to almost zero by 2050, but to achieve this government and industry, collectively, must not ‘take our foot off the gas’. What industry needs now are clear signals, with explicit policy and well-communicated pathways to low carbon heating such as heat pumps.”

He continued: “The industry needs to prepare for increased production and training with a degree of certainty that is only achievable by clear policy and distinct time frames. The technology is widely available, but more structured training is needed to implement it. The HPA is ready to help government raise awareness among installers and customers and is already planning to set up its own training courses in the near future.”

Gavin Holvey, UK and Ireland sales manager at Priva UK, commented: “As an environmentally conscious and responsible business, Priva UK stands firmly behind the government’s commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Right across our business – at home and abroad - we support legislation that injects new impetus and energy into the race to fight climate change.

“We already play an active part in the climate crisis challenge by working with our customers and partners to reduce CO2 emissions within the UK’s built environment, but we are of course ready to work even harder to meet the ambitious – but much-needed – goal by 2050.

“Low carbon technology and clean energy contribute £44.5 billion to our economy every year; Priva UK is proud to show that its support for climate leadership drives UK competitiveness and secure long-term prosperity.”

Peter Tse, business manager, Sustainable Construction Group at BSRIA, said: “The task ahead is truly challenging given the UK is currently significantly behind the targets set out in both the fourth and fifth carbon budgets. However, it is encouraging to see many businesses already leading the way, with strong commitments and swift progress and a new Net Zero Taskforce launched to support the private sector’s transition to a net zero carbon future.

“BSRIA is at the forefront of this debate, with its annual Briefing in London on Friday November 15 2019 entitled ‘A Climate of Change – how future technology and improved processes could secure energy efficiency and wellbeing’.”

Chris Rason, managing director, Northern Europe at Aggreko, said: “The UK is the first major nation in the world to propose such ambitious targets, and its impact on industry could resonate widely. We need to ensure key energy decision-makers are prepared for this potential phase-out with new and innovative solutions, and decentralised energy will play a large part in this.

“As a sustainable and efficient solution, decentralised energy technology can ensure energy security for businesses while reducing their overall carbon footprint. These new targets mean it is even more vital that these benefits are accessible as possible, and long-term hire can provide a bridging-gap solution for those who may otherwise be discouraged by high investment costs.”

A recent report from Aggreko, entitled Bridging the Energy Gap, can be downloaded here.

13 June 2019

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