Review of Energy Policy 2019

09 Dec 2019

Climate change is higher on the agenda than ever this year. The UK government has raised the level
of ambition, legislating for a net-zero target for all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Whilst it may be
possible to achieve this goal before 2050, the political debate about the target year risks distracting attention
from a crucial question: what actions will the next government take to significantly reduce emissions?

This year’s Review of Energy Policy focuses on seven themes that form the backbone of UKERC’s research
programme for the next five years. The Review sets out some of the challenges the next government will face
– and makes specific recommendations about future policy priorities.

Our key policy recommendations are:
  1. The transition to net-zero will affect the whole economy. Investment and policy decisions by all government departments need to be compatible with this transition.
  2. Policies to support renewable electricity generation should be more ambitious, building on deployment and cost reduction successes. Action is also needed to ensure electricity market rules are fit for a fully decarbonised power sector.
  3. Decisions by the energy regulator, Ofgem, should also be compatible with net-zero. This includes enabling investment in local electricity networks to facilitate heat and transport decarbonisation, and ensuring more active use of existing networks.
  4. Local energy systems could play a significant role in achieving net-zero, particularly in the integration of electricity, heat and transport. More resources and greater powers for Local Authorities will help to ensure the potential for local action is realised.
  5. A clear plan is required for upgrading the UK housing stock. A heat and energy efficiency White Paper must include policies for widespread deployment of low carbon heat (including demonstrating hydrogen at scale) and for prioritising low income households.
  6. Whilst the decarbonisation of industry is receiving more attention, policy initiatives are not joined up. Funding for specific projects and industrial clusters should be complemented by market creation policies, including for carbon capture and storage.
  7. Our analysis shows that achieving net-zero requires the phase out of fossil-fuelled vehicles to be brought forward to 2030. Immediate action is also required to counter the rapid increase in sales of larger cars (including SUVs).
  8. Plans to meet net-zero should maximise environmental co-benefits. Potential negative impacts on ecosystems should be assessed and mitigated.
  9. Continuing uncertainty about the UK’s changing relationship with the European Union has already affected decarbonisation plans. Whatever the outcome, close co-operation with the EU is likely to make it easier to achieve net-zero.
  10. The transition to net-zero should not compromise energy security. In light of the events on August 9th, responsibilities for ensuring system resilience need to be clarified and applied in a more rigorous way.

 

Watch the video of the event here