The government has launched its Clean Growth Strategy which outlines the proposed approach to creating a lower-carbon future for the UK. This comes as part of its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions on a national scale.
The in-depth document which was compiled by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), is available to download here. However, if you don’t have enough time to browse all 165 pages, gas mains specialist Flogas has summarised the key points from the strategy and what they mean for UK homes and businesses.
What is the UK’s climate change commitment?
It’s important to firstly understand what legislation brought the Clean Growth Strategy about.
The UK introduced the Climate Change Act in 2008, becoming the first nation globally to have a self-imposed legally binding carbon reduction target. What was the point in it? To reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels).
Are we close to meeting the target?
Figures published by BEIS in March 2017 shows how well the UK was doing in its efforts to reach this target, with carbon emissions dropping by 42% since 1990. While this progress is encouraging, the government acknowledges that there is still plenty more work to be done – and that’s where proposals like the Clean Growth Strategy come in.
How can the government’s Clean Growth Strategy help?
Simply put, the policies and proposals that are set out in the Clean Growth Strategy aim to speed up ‘clean growth’ in two ways: by decreasing emissions, and by increasing economic growth. With that in mind, the two guiding objectives underpinning the strategy are:
- To meet our domestic commitments at the lowest possible net cost to UK taxpayers, consumers and businesses.
- To maximise the social and economic benefits for the UK from this transition.
To turn this vision into a reality, the government has pledged to roll out lower-carbon processes, systems and technologies nationwide – doing so in the most cost-effective way possible for businesses and homes alike.
What are the Clean Growth Strategy’s key proposals?
The strategy’s proposals focus on these six key areas, which together are responsible for 100% of the UK’s carbon emissions:
- Improving business and industry efficiency (25% of UK emissions)
- Improving our homes (13% of UK emissions)
- Accelerating the shift to low-carbon transport (24% of UK emissions)
- Delivering clean, smart, flexible power (21% of UK emissions)
- Enhancing the benefits and value of our natural resources (15% of UK emissions)
- Leading the public sector (2% of UK emissions)
You can find read the full list of pledges in this executive summary.
What does this mean for our homes and businesses?
What this essentially means is that homes, businesses and industrial operations will be encouraged by the government to cut down their carbon footprint in a number of ways. A major focus will be reassessing the fuels we use for jobs like heating, cooking, and powering industrial and manufacturing processes – and embracing cleaner, greener alternatives.
This won’t just mean boosting the uptake of renewable technologies, such as heat pumps and solar panels in the long term, but also favouring cleaner conventional fuels over more polluting ones. For example, for off-grid homes and businesses, the strategy sets out specific plans to phase out high-carbon forms of fossil fuels like oil. As the lowest-carbon conventional off-grid fuel, oil to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) conversions will play a key part in replacing oil in rural parts of the country.
Natural gas will, of course, stay as a popular choice for buildings that are connected to the mains network. This is because of its affordability and accessibility, as well as it being the lowest-carbon fossil fuel available. Flogas expects to see this part of its business continue to go from strength to strength.
The company, which has been an energy sector expert for over three decades, also predicts that the ‘green gas’ phenomenon (natural gas injected with a proportion of environmentally friendly biogas) will grow in popularity as the Clean Growth Strategy rolls out.
Reaction to the Clean Growth Strategy
Key industry figures have been quick to support the Clean Growth Strategy since it was unveiled.
Flogas’s Managing Director, Lee Gannon, said: “Through the publication of its Clean Growth Strategy, the government has made clear its intention to reduce carbon emissions from off-grid UK homes and businesses. Natural gas is affordable, versatile, widely available and – most importantly – emits significantly less carbon than the likes of coal and oil. As such, it will continue to play a central role as the UK works towards cleaning up its energy landscape. We look forward to working alongside policymakers and wider industry stakeholders to make the Clean Growth Strategy the success that it deserves to be.”
The strategy is also supported by Trade body Oil & Gas UK. Mike Tholen, its Upstream Policy Director, commented: “Oil & Gas UK welcomes the government’s commitment to technology in the strategy, especially with regards to carbon abatement measures such as carbon capture, usage and storage. Oil & Gas UK looks forward to working with the government to see how these technologies can further reduce emissions across the economy.”