Was 2017 finally the breakthrough year for low carbon and energy efficiency?
By any estimation, the sector has received some significant boosts this year.
In the Clean Growth Strategy, the Government made a solid commitment to lead the world in cost effective clean growth, setting out, in clear terms, a blueprint for Britain’s low carbon future.
That wasn’t all. Shortly afterwards The Industrial Strategy gave encouraging signs for low carbon, offering up measures to help large businesses cut energy use and bills.
Some of the headline promises included £2.5 billion to support low carbon innovation from 2015 to 2021, up to £10 million for innovations that improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings, and an Industrial Energy Efficiency scheme to help large companies install measures to cut their energy use and their bills.
Such themes been in the background for years, but politically, in 2017 they finally found their way into solid policy.
So today we ask; if 2017 started the breakthrough, what do we need in coming years to make low carbon ever more real on the ground in the UK?
Is this the beginning of the end for fossil energy and the old status quo?
“At Energys, we feel that there are hints 2017’s policy declarations do indeed signal a turning point in the UK’s evolution towards low carbon,” comments Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys.
“It is very important to remember that not long ago, a great many commentators were forecasting major issues for the UK’s environment policy, claiming that with Brexit in the headlights, there was nothing to stop us slipping back to a fossil based agenda.
“It is very clear that while there is always more to do, this has not happened. Indeed major policy documents have taken us far in the opposite direction; towards energy efficiency, low carbon, electric vehicles and major alterations to our electricity network.”
Yet, amid all this positivity, work remains to be done.
Policy vs reality
In environmental spheres, policy leads real world change. But policy alone is not a panacea; cash, while welcome, is not the sole solution.
One element that hints at real meaning behind the top level promises and strategic direction, is the appointment of an independent Industrial Strategy Council, planned for next year, to hold Ministers to account over progress.
When we look back on historic environmental promises, often the truth is that the money went to the wrong places, too slowly; that the funds established were misdirected.
The Council must ensure this doesn’t happen, and that the cash set aside for energy efficiency and low carbon reaches the places it can work best.
Moreover, as Brexit beckons, we must be aware of the UK’s challenging growth forecasts and give close attention to our burgeoning low carbon industry even while negotiating our exit from the EU.
The final word
All in all, the future for low carbon is not necessarily less challenging than prior to 2017’s policy moves.
But there is now room for hope and opportunity. There is a real sense that there is no turning back from this point, and that a lower carbon UK is unequivocally where we are firmly headed.
For this, we must be grateful. Let’s enter 2018 bursting with positivity, ready to do the hard work to back up the promising lead Government Ministers have delivered.
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The Energys Group January 2018 horizon scan: EU ups the ante on buildings energy efficiency standards
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The IFC says energy efficient buildings could drastically cut global C02, but policy and standards must step up also
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