8 green policies for businesses to look out for this year

2021 needs to be a defining year for action on climate change – and all eyes are on the UK as it gears up to host the crucial COP26 climate conference in November.

A number of major green policies are due from the government before then – these will be key to getting the UK on track for its 2050 net zero target.

Here’s our list of the green policies to look out for in 2021.

Transport Decarbonisation Plan

Transport is currently the largest source of UK greenhouse gas emissions, so fundamental shifts in technology and travel habits are needed. A Transport Decarbonisation Plan is due in spring 2021 (it was originally due last autumn, but, like many policies, suffered from Covid and Brexit related delays). The plan will set out a route to decarbonising the entire UK transport system, and will take a “holistic and cross-modal approach” including place-based solutions. Our recent blog post takes an educated guess at what businesses need to prepare for.

Heat & Buildings Strategy

Another delayed paper, the Heat & Buildings Strategy has now been promised at some point in 2021. It will set out the immediate actions the government will take for reducing emissions from buildings, including the deployment of energy efficiency measures and low carbon heating – with the end goal of decarbonising all homes and buildings. Together, building and construction are responsible for 39% of all carbon emissions in the world, with operational emissions (from energy used to heat, cool and light buildings) accounting for 28%.

Hydrogen Strategy

As announced in its Ten Point Plan, the government wants to see towns heated entirely by hydrogen in the future – but we’re not there yet. A Hydrogen Strategy is due in 2021 which will set out the near-term actions that need to be taken to produce and distribute low carbon hydrogen at scale. By the end of the decade we could see hydrogen powering industry, heating towns and fuelling heavy transport, as well as balancing the grid.

Net Zero Strategy

The “big one” promised by government before COP26 is a fully comprehensive “Net Zero Strategy” that will set out our pathway for transitioning to a net zero economy, making the most of new growth and employment opportunities across the UK. It will look at what is needed to enable change at scale over the next 30 years – the skills we need in the economy, the shifts to our energy systems, finance flows and behaviours at individual, local and national levels required to fully decarbonise the economy.

Net Zero Review final report

This report from HM Treasury is due in the next few months, and will consider how the transition to net zero will be funded and where costs will fall – the aim being to ensure that there is an equal balance of contributions between households, taxpayers and businesses. An interim report was published in December 2020.

Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy

Due for publish in 2021, the Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy will seek to create a prosperous, low carbon UK industrial sector by 2050. It will set out how the low carbon transition can support industrial competitiveness and the green recovery across the UK, including identifying opportunities for new markets and sectors to develop.

Nature Strategy

The Nature Strategy is also due this year, and will set out the government’s ambition to conserve and enhance England’s biodiversity, delivering on our global targets under the Convention on Biological Diversity and the goals set out under the 25YEP. It will be clearly linked to other strategies, including those for Trees, Peat and Pollinators.

England Tree Strategy

A new England Tree Strategy is due later this year, outlining the role that trees will play in tackling climate change and biodiversity loss. It will shape the actions government will take over the coming years to move towards this vision, building on the announcement of the £640m Nature for Climate Fund last year. At the last election, the government made a manifesto commitment to increase planting to 30,000 hectares per year.