Skip to content

Government ‘misses opportunity’ to help UK ramp up its transition to net zero

30 March 2023

The ICE is responding to a raft of announcements made by the government today, including the Net Zero Strategy and Green Finance Strategy. 

Government ‘misses opportunity’ to help UK ramp up its transition to net zero
The government faces criticism for not announcing measures to ramp up the UK's transition to net zero, which could have an impact on how we use infrastructure in the future. Image credit: Shutterstock

The government has ‘missed the opportunity’ to help sectors ramp up the UK’s transition to net zero, the ICE has said in response to a swathe of energy security and net zero measures announced today.

As it heads into Easter recess, the UK government unveiled proposals that promised increased support for carbon capture, nuclear, renewables, and energy efficiency.

The ICE was concerned, however, that there was not enough certainty for the sector to progress changes at the speed required.

ICE director of policy Chris Richards said: "The UK government has chosen today to largely restate existing policy and missed the opportunity to set out the additional detail needed to enable sectors to ramp up the transition to net zero."

The government’s announcements followed recent calls for certainty and urgency from the Climate Change Committee, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the National Infrastructure Commission.

Today's announcements from government:

  • Launch of Energy Security Plan and Net Zero Growth Plan
  • Response to the Skidmore net zero review
  • Response to the Climate Change Committee’s 2022 Progress Report to Parliament
  • Launch of a Green Finance Strategy

What did the government announce?

The announcements – which total nearly 3,000 pages of policy detail – form part of an updated Net Zero Strategy.

The strategy was found unlawful by the High Court last year, as it failed to show the government’s working on how its policies would meet the UK’s legally-binding carbon budgets.

Among the announcements is a response to the recommendations from the independent review of net zero, led by Chris Skidmore MP.

The government has also fulfilled a statutory obligation to respond to the Climate Change Committee’s (CCC’s) 2022 Progress Report to Parliament.

Alongside this, the government has launched a Green Finance Strategy. 

However, the ICE has found that only a handful of today’s announcements are new commitments or funding.

This is despite the National Infrastructure Commission pointing out, only earlier this week, that progress on crucial net zero policies such as energy efficiency and heat pumps remains slow. 

Additionally, while the UK looks set to meet its fourth and fifth carbon budgets (2023-27 and 2028-32, respectively) under its current policies, the government has confirmed it is not on track to meet its legally-binding sixth carbon budget.

"There are still not enough clear policy frameworks, disparate funding pots and questions on technology choices remain unanswered. Even the government admits that today’s measures don’t go far enough," said Richards.

Other key takeaways from today’s announcements

Despite these failings, the ICE noted that the UK government recognised the vital role that infrastructure plays in meeting its net zero and energy security ambitions.

It said that this was demonstrated in the new Green Finance Strategy, which identified enormous growth opportunities that transitioning to a net zero economy will bring.

Other key takeaways from the announcements included:

  • Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS) features heavily in the Energy Security Plan, with £20 billion of funding confirmed over a 20-year period.
  • The government says it is partly or fully acting upon 23 out of 25 recommendations with a deadline of 2025 from Chris Skidmore’s review of net zero, but rejected the suggestion of an Office for Net Zero delivery.
  • Great British Nuclear has been set up to deliver the UK’s nuclear ambitions.
  • A new government/industry taskforce for solar power will be set up, and the government has also committed to rebalancing gas and electricity prices by 2024. 

The ICE will analyse today’s announcements in detail over the coming weeks – stay tuned to the Infrastructure Blog for more information. 

  • David Hawkes, head of policy at ICE