The infrastructure sector and the Government’s 10-point plan for climate change

The Government has today published a 10-point plan for tackling climate change. Here we look at what this means for the UK’s infrastructure sector. 
 

The Government has brought forward the target to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles to boost the EVs market
The Government has brought forward the target to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles to boost the EVs market
  • Updated: 18 November, 2020
  • Author: Ben Goodwin, Lead Policy Manager
Some of the announcements in the plan had been made previously, but there are a raft of new measures and investments for electric vehicles, hydrogen, CCS (carbon capture and storage) and nuclear power.
 

Ensuring long-term roads funding

Bringing forward the point at which the sale of petrol and diesel cars is phased out to 2030 is positive. But with electric vehicles currently exempt from paying VED and the diminishing impact that this will have on fuel duty revenues this does create some concern around the long-term funding of roads.

On this point, ICE has previously advocated the introduction of a pay-as-you-go system for England’s strategic road network (SRN) to plug the funding gap. This would mean users of the SRN paying for journeys that they make on this network.

More detail needed on energy policy

The decision to pursue building one additional nuclear power plant on top of Hinkley Point C is, on the surface, in line with the recommendation that the National Infrastructure Commission had made in its assessment in 2018. Something that the ICE has since publicly supported.

The Institution’s recent paper on the need for a Net-Zero Infrastructure Plan identified that government should set out its thinking on hydrogen and CCS. Today’s announcements highlight a direction of travel but lack detail.

In the case of CCS, it is important to remember that the UK has already seen two large scale funding competitions fail over the last decade.  

Setting out a joined-up plan for net-zero emissions

Overall, the 10-point plan falls short in conveying how government is taking a holistic approach across departments to tackle climate change. This is something that is necessary if the UK is to meet its 2050 net-zero emissions target.

When the National Infrastructure Strategy and Energy White Paper are published next week, we would expect these to include a joined-up plan for achieving the target.

10-point climate change plan

The government’s full 10-point plan for climate change is as follows:
  1. Offshore wind: Producing enough offshore wind to power every home, quadrupling how much we produce to 40GW by 2030, supporting up to 60,000 jobs.
  2. Hydrogen: Working with industry aiming to generate 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 for industry, transport, power and homes, and aiming to develop the first town heated entirely by hydrogen by the end of the decade.
  3. Nuclear: Advancing nuclear as a clean energy source, across large scale nuclear and developing the next generation of small and advanced reactors, which could support 10,000 jobs.
  4. Electric vehicles: Backing our world-leading car manufacturing bases including in the West Midlands, North East and North Wales to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, and transforming our national infrastructure to better support electric vehicles.
  5. Public transport, cycling and walking: Making cycling and walking more attractive ways to travel and investing in zero-emission public transport of the future.
  6. Jet Zero and greener maritime: Supporting difficult-to-decarbonise industries to become greener through research projects for zero-emission planes and ships.
  7. Homes and public buildings: Making our homes, schools and hospitals greener, warmer and more energy efficient, whilst creating 50,000 jobs by 2030, and a target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.
  8. Carbon capture: Becoming a world-leader in technology to capture and store harmful emissions away from the atmosphere, with a target to remove 10MT of carbon dioxide by 2030, equivalent to all emissions of the industrial Humber today.
  9. Nature: Protecting and restoring our natural environment, planting 30,000 hectares of trees every year, whilst creating and retaining thousands of jobs.
  10. Innovation and finance: Developing the cutting-edge technologies needed to reach these new energy ambitions and make the City of London the global centre of green finance.

The ICE policy team will post analysis of announcements made in the spending review next week through this blog. Do look out for this!

Read more on the findings of a recent APPGI meeting discussing how infrastructure investment could be key to a UK economic recovery.

Read more on electric vehicle use in the Journals section of ICE Publishing here.

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