Presidential Breakfast explores the policy trade-offs needed to transition to net-zero Britain

In a week where the Chancellor announced the UK’s first green bonds and Labour launched their green recovery strategy, ICE hosted a Presidential Breakfast on creating a net-zero policy plan for infrastructure.

Chaired by ICE President Rachel Skinner, speakers Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Select Committee (EAC), and Ola Alterå, Chief Executive of the Swedish Climate Policy Council, led a virtual discussion on the policy trade-offs that need to be addressed to transition the UK’s economic infrastructure networks to a net-zero footing.

Philip, having spearheaded the examination of government policies’ impact on the environment, gave an update on how the EAC plans to continue to promote the net-zero agenda and where he believes policy decisions are needed against the four areas identified as requiring action in ICE’s policy paper, A plan for transitioning infrastructure to net-zero - the future energy mix; pathways to decarbonising transport and heat; and reducing emissions.

Ola shared his experiences of having built a political consensus around the need for a Net-Zero Infrastructure Plan in Sweden, and the work of the Swedish Climate Policy Council in progressing Sweden’s climate transition, including Panorama, a digital collaboration and data visualisation tool to provide an overview of what is needed to reach Sweden’s climate targets.

The discussion points from the roundtable fell into one of two categories: things we know we have to do, and things we can do. Government coordination is key, and the discussion was therefore timely. Politically, the UK is going through a big picture moment on net-zero. As part of the roundtable, we discussed the opportunity for the UK as being a good one to not only get our house in order but also to show global leadership, with COP26 and the G7 being hosted in the UK in 2021. It was recognised that there is no longer a political debate about whether or not this is the right thing to do, the debate had moved on to what we should do. There were many lessons we can learn from other countries, such as Sweden, who have done a lot of this transformation.

ICE will be continuing this conversation when Prof Jim Hall FICE, ICE’s Trustee for Carbon and Climate, goes in front of the EAC later this month as part of their inquiry on ‘Greening the post-Covid recovery’. 
 
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