E3G calls for new thinking to underpin net zero

E3G has stressed that if the UK is to meet its 2050 net zero emissions target, new policies will be needed and the government must decide quickly how radical these changes are.

Writing on 13 January on E3G’s website, Simon Skillings set out how incremental change will not work when it comes to energy in homes, in particular. Skillings explained modest fiscal incentives – the government’s preferred policy approach – will not persuade most property owners to invest in their premises. This means a solution must be found to overcome this and attract the “huge amount” of private finance required to decarbonise urban environments.

Skillings suggested rethinking the consumer protection regime and introducing long-term energy supply contracts could prove a potential answer. He noted it was unclear how encouraging consumers to switch supplier fits the requirement for people to invest in their homes and businesses to improve efficiency, install low carbon heating and smart energy control systems. Long-term contracts would bring reliable returns for investors and cheaper energy bills for consumers, while a new protection regime could ensure peace of mind with better service, the opportunity to upgrade technology and a guarantee of a fair price.

Skillings noted that it was important to recognise that radical changes have risks, adding that the opportunity to explore such solutions could come from a contained local environment. With local authorities across the country setting their own net zero goals – often more ambitious than national targets – they are often on the lookout for opportunities to show leadership in the face of the climate emergency and deliver early wins for citizens. Skillings added that this local ambition can be used by government to test radical ideas and reduce the risks associated with a “big bang” national implementation.