Achieving Net Zero

While I appreciate your concerns, the assessment of the independent Committee on Climate Change has concluded that this target is feasible, deliverable and can be met within the same cost as was estimated for our previous target of 80 per cent which was set back in 2008, such has been the power of innovation in reducing costs.

Yet I am pleased that the recent revisions to the net zero strategy have outlined a fairer path to achieve the target, easing the financial burden on British families. For too many years politicians in governments of all stripes have not been honest about costs and trade-offs. To this end, the Government is taking a more pragmatic, proportionate and realistic approach to ensure that public support is maintained.

I believe that the proposed revisions increase the achievability of the target in the long run. Our politics must again put the long-term interests of our country before the short-term political needs of the moment. These changes include: easing the transition to electric vehicles from 2030 to 2035, in line with other similar countries; giving families far more time to transition to heat pumps while significantly increasing grants to upgrade boilers; scrapping onerous energy efficiency requirements and not forcing people to make alterations; a commitment to no rules on carpooling, seven different bins and more expensive meat; and greater support for new oil and gas in the North Sea.

However, it is right that we should look carefully at how these costs are distributed in the longer-term. In 2021, the Treasury published its Net Zero Review which found that the majority of global GDP is now covered by net zero targets. As the world decarbonises, UK action can generate benefits for businesses and households across the country. The report highlighted that the transition to net zero implies a significant transformation of the UK economy over the next three decades. It noted that the overall impact is uncertain and challenging to estimate. However, existing estimates suggest that the impact on GDP by the end of the transition is likely to be relatively small, and dwarfed by the costs of global inaction. 

The most recent cost estimates in the Net Zero Strategy present a net cost, excluding air quality and emission reduction benefits, equivalent to 1-2 per cent of GDP in 2050. This is easily justified when another report estimated the overall costs and risks of global warming to be equivalent to losing between 5 per cent and 20 per cent of global GDP each year. While the UK might be less exposed to physical risks of continued global warming than many other nations owing to its temperate climate and status as an advanced economy, there are potentially still significant indirect impacts. For example, damage to global supply chains affecting trade, reduced production in trading partner nations pushing up the cost of imported goods, or changes to migration from regions heavily affected by climate change. 

Ultimately, in fulfilling the scale of the commitment, technological and logistical changes are needed in the way we use our land and to seize the opportunity to support investment in a range of new or advanced technologies, including in areas such as carbon capture, usage and storage, hydrogen and nuclear. The Treasury's interim report noted that well-designed policy can reduce costs and risk for investors, support innovation and the deployment of new technologies.

The Government's Net Zero Strategy sets out a clear path for the changes needed to secure our energy, create jobs and new industries, and end the UK's contribution to climate change. The UK can rapidly cut carbon emissions, while creating new jobs, new technologies and future-proof industries that will generate economic growth for decades to come.