NIC calls for reform of regulators to hit net zero

Without regulators having powers to ensure utilities invest in sustainable infrastructure, the UK will miss its net zero 2050 target, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has warned.

Published on 11 October, the NIC’s Strategic Investment and Public Confidence report called for new statutory duties for regulators – Ofgem, Ofwat and Ofcom – to promote the achievement of net zero and improve the resilience of the UK’s infrastructure. It also called for government to provide regulators with a clear, long-term strategic focus for the country’s infrastructure priorities, guiding regulation.

It stressed such a shift would be essential to delivering the major new projects required to mitigate climate change, which include a nationwide charging network for electric vehicles and clean alternatives to natural gas.

NIC Chair, Sir John Armitt said: “The government has committed the UK to net zero by 2050, but if regulators aren’t equipped with a new duty to specifically reach this target, then it is simply unattainable. The regulatory system must adapt to meet the demands of the future – and the great challenge we face to bring down emissions and build resilience against increasingly frequent extreme weather. If ministers are serious about a low-carbon revolution, they must act quickly and decisively to modernise regulation.”