British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unveiled a £12 billion (€13.4 billion) plan to unleash a Green Industrial Revolution across the UK that would see the sale of petrol and diesel cars banned from 2030.
Johnson said his 10-point plan would create and support 250,000 jobs and would generate over three times as much investment from the private sector by 2030.
Critics say however that the investments planned are too low and lack ambition.
Here are the key points:
Offshore wind – powering homes
The Prime Minister aims for offshore wind to be able to power every home by 2030. This would require electricity generated by offshore wind to be quadrupled to 40GW within the next ten years. He said this would create 60,000 jobs.
Renewable electricity capacity in the UK was 48.5 GW at the end of the second quarter of 2020, a 5.4 per cent increase on the previous year and with 80 per cent of the increase coming from offshore wind, according to government figures.
Offshore wind was the second biggest source of renewable electricity generation behind bioenergy.
Hydrogen – the cornerstone of the carbon-neutral plan
The plan aims for 5GW of low carbon hydrogen to be produced by 2030 and for the development of a town entirely powered by hydrogen.
Up to £500 million (€559.3 million) will be invested to achieve those aim of which just under half will go into new hydrogen production facilities.
Hydrogen is a gas that makes up 75 per cent of the universe and which does not emit any carbon dioxide when used but it is difficult to isolate.
The European Union has made hydrogen the cornerstone of its aim to become the world’s first carbon-neutral region by 2050 and plans for 430 billion in investment over the next ten years to scale up the hydrogen value chain across the Old Continent.
Nuclear – small scale development
Johnson wants to advance nuclear as a clean energy source by developing the “next generation of small advanced reactors”.
Just over half a billion pounds (€587 million) are being earmarked to help develop these “smaller-scale nuclear plants”.
Hinckley Point C reactors are the only ones under construction right now and the project has been beset by delays and rising costs. It is now estimated to cost up to £22.5 billion (€25 billion) and to come online before the end of 2025.
Electric vehicles – traditionally powered vehicles to be banned
The British leader wants to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles. The sale of petrol and diesel vehicles is to be banned from 2030 — 10 years earlier than initially planned. Hybrid vehicles will still be allowed to be sold for another 5 years.
Some 1.3 billion (€1.45 billion) will be spent on accelerating the rollout of charge points for electric vehicles. Another half a billion pounds will be invested over the next four years for the development and mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries. Another £582 million (€651 million) will be dished out as grants to help people make the transition.
Transport – encouraging cycling and walking
Johnson’s Green Industrial Revolution plans to make “cycling and walking more attractive ways to travel” and to invest in zero-emission public transport.
It also aims to support “the difficult-to-decarbonise” aviation and maritime sectors through research for zero-emission planes and ships”.
£20 million has been earmarked for a competition to develop clean maritime technology. No details on JetZero.
Buildings – heat pumps installed for energy efficiency
The aim here is to make buildings more energy-efficient through a £1 billion investment (€1.1 billion). The plan forecasts for the installation of 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.
The EU released its own Renovation Wave strategy last month. It estimated that buildings are responsible for about 40 per cent of the bloc’s total energy consumption and over a third of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the Progressive Policy think tank, direct emissions from housing need to be reduced by 24 per cent by 2030 for the UK to meet its Paris Agreement commitments. It estimated that decarbonising household heating in the north of the country would require £143 billion (€160 billion).
Carbon capture – harmful emission storage
Johnson wants for the UK to become “a world-leader in technology to capture and store” harmful emissions.
Some £200 million will go towards creating two carbon capture clusters by the mid-2020s and a further two by 2030.
Nature – planting more trees
A pledge to protect the environment will see 30,000 hectares of trees planted every year.
Innovation and finance – for ‘cutting edge’ tech
This part also says that the UK will develop “the cutting edge technologies needed to reach these new energy ambitions and make the City fo London the global centre of green finance.”
Reaction to the plan from opposition parties was largely negative.
‘Lacks any serious ambition’
Ed Miliband, Shadow Business ad Energy Secretary, said Johnson’s proposal “doesn’t remotely meet the scale of what’s needed to tackle the unemployment emergency and climate emergency we’re facing.”
He also said that it “pales in comparison to the tens of billions committed by France and Germany.”
The leader of the Liberal Democrats party, Ed Davey has attacked the plan, describing it as “a leaky bucket to put out a fire when we needed a fleet of fire engines.”
“The government’s £12 billion plan lacks any serious ambition to kickstart a green recover or to give the UK a chance to lead the world in industries of the future,” he added.
The New Economics Foundation reacted to the announcement, saying it shows that the “UK government is finally beginning to take climate change seriously.”