Majority of energy professionals urge resilient green recovery

Britain’s energy professionals fear that without immediate policy steps from the government, the UK’s 2030 and 2050 greenhouse gas emission reduction targets will be missed.

In fact, almost 90 per cent said in a recent survey that the UK is currently off track for net zero by 2050, and more than half say we are even off track for 2030 interim target without urgent policy action.

This is according to the Energy Institute’s Energy Barometer 2020, in which four in five energy professionals said they want stimulus channelled into green industries and jobs, and support for polluting sectors made contingent on climate action.

Respondents are split on whether coronavirus will overall hasten the transition to net zero (38 per cent) or hinder it (33 per cent). Very few expect energy demand, passenger journeys, industrial activity and emissions to rebound to beyond pre-pandemic levels, in fact most foresee them remaining subdued for an extended period.

Steve Holliday, president of the Energy Institute, and former CEO of National Grid, said: “Our members from all walks of energy are crystal clear on two big takeaways for ministers and industry leaders in this year’s Energy Barometer. First, despite progress so far in decarbonising electricity, the UK is way off track for getting to net zero by 2050. More ambitious policies are needed and fast. Second, there’s an appeal for the UK to turn the discontinuity caused by the pandemic into the moment we get real about the climate threat, the shape of our future economy and our responsibility to the world.”

Besides coronavirus, low-carbon energy, climate change and energy policy were the other dominant concerns identified by energy professionals this year. Respondents cite the growth of renewables and decline of coal in the electricity mix as the two stand-out emissions reduction successes of the last decade. This success is owed to falling costs and stable government policy, in the form of direct financial support and mandatory standards, respectively. But more than 70 per cent do not think the government is now doing enough.