CBI calls for more UK action on net zero ahead of COP26

·4-min read
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World leaders at the G7, including the UK, US, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Japan agreed to boost financial aid for climate change during the three-day summit in Cornwall. Photo: Getty

The UK must move from ambition to action to achieve net zero goals by 2050, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has said.

CBI's director-general Tony Danker, will use his keynote speech at the group's Road to Zero virtual conference, to urge business and government "to step up and make the big plays" by accelerating Britain's own transition.

Danker who is opening the conference is expected to say: "We’ve got just under five months to go until the UK hosts COP26. We need to raise global ambitions and make this the boldest year of net-zero action yet.

“This means securing stronger, binding commitments and concrete plans from every country to deliver the Paris Agreement. It also requires the UK to accelerate a global approach to carbon markets, sustainable finance and the shift to clean power.

"With the world soon to be on our doorstep, now is the time for the UK to step up and make the big plays. Taking nothing less than unprecedented, unstoppable action in the next five months to ensure the legacy we sow in Glasgow far outlasts our leadership of COP."

The CBI is proposing the following three points:

  1. Publish Heat & Buildings Strategy to deliver green buildings: All new boilers to be hydrogen ready from 2025 alongside Government detail on how it will financially support homeowners and landlords to make homes energy efficient. Announce a new delivery body to manage a national deployment plan for heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency.

  2. Unlock UK investment & growth in green technologies: Announce timeframes for the next round of UK offshore wind leasing by COP26. Confirm preferred business models for hydrogen production and carbon capture and storage and the location of first two CCUS clusters by COP26.

  3. Prioritise transport decarbonisation: Publish government’s new electric vehicle plan by the end of the year and commit to 7 new gigafactories for battery production.

Tackling climate change and reaching net zero emissions has been at the forefront of global nations.

World leaders at the G7, including the UK, US, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Japan agreed to boost financial aid for climate change during the three-day summit in Cornwall. They will also stop funding new coal generation in developing nations and offer up to £2bn ($2.8bn) to stop using the fuel.

Britain became the first G7 country last year to set in law a net zero emissions target by 2050, so it is legally bound to deliver on that and has been looking to renewables to provide alternative sources of energy.

In December last year, during the United Nations Climate summit, the UK submitted a new national climate plan — or nationally determined contribution (NDC) — which confirms its pledge to cut greenhouse gas pollution by at least 68% by 2030 from 1990 levels.

Watch: G7 vows action on Covid vaccines, climate change

It comes after the International Energy Agency (IEA) published a historic proposal to reach net zero emissions by 2050, a prerequisite to meet the Paris climate accord goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The plans published earlier in May called for energy groups to stop all new oil and gas explorations from this year to keep global warming in check, the group said.

Read more: Global ban on gas boilers proposed from 2025

IEA also proposed a global ban on new fossil fuel boilers starting from 2025, as part of its vision to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

This is similar if more ambitious compared to the UK government's decision to phase out gas boiler installations by mid-2030s. In the UK, according to Installer, 2019 saw a record number of gas boilers being sold — 1.67 million units, an increase of 1.8% on 2018 figures.

Consumer group Which? said that as per the UK government's plans, those who currently have a gas or oil boiler won’t need to replace it. But it does mean that, from the mid-2030s, they won’t be able to get a traditional gas or oil boiler installed.

Instead a low-carbon heating system, or an appliance that can be converted to use a clean fuel, will need to be installed. Systems such as a heat pumps or hydrogen-ready boilers are likely candidates.

Industry figures show that last year, over 30% of Britain’s electricity was generated by gas-fired power plants, while the offshore industry met about 45% of its overall energy needs in 2019.

Data also revealed that flaring in the UK North Sea declined by 22% in 2020 from the previous year as production facilities cut the overall volume to 33 billion cubic feet.

The reduction which is roughly equivalent to the gas demand of 200,000 UK homes — is the lowest level of flaring on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) on Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) records.

Watch: IEA: Solving climate crisis will require 'total transformation' of global energy use