The new “Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution”: ambitious or falling short?

Last night the government announced a £12bn “Ten Point Plan” to drive the UK towards its 2050 net zero target, and inject some much-needed momentum on climate change in this crucial year ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow next year.

Covering clean energy, transport, nature and innovative technologies the government says the plans will create and support up to 250,000 highly-skilled green jobs.

The breadth and level of ambition within the plans have been welcomed by many, but there has also been criticism that the plans lack clarity – and do not go far enough. We outline the plans – and what the industry reaction has been.

A ten point plan for net zero:

1. Offshore wind:

Producing enough offshore wind to power every home, quadrupling how much we produce to 40GW by 2030, supporting up to 60,000 jobs.

2. Hydrogen:

Working with industry aiming to generate 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 for industry, transport, power and homes, and aiming to develop the first town heated entirely by hydrogen by the end of the decade. The government is investing £500 million in total – of which £240 million will go into new hydrogen production facilities.

3. Nuclear:

Advancing nuclear as a clean energy source:  £525 million will be invested to help develop large and smaller-scale nuclear plants, and research and develop new advanced modular reactors. The government says could support 10,000 jobs.

4. Electric vehicles:

Backing car manufacturing bases including in the West Midlands, North East and North Wales to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, and transforming the UK’s national infrastructure to better support electric vehicles. Funding includes £1.3 billion to accelerate the rollout of EV chargepoints, £582 million in grants for those buying zero or ultra-low emission vehicles, and £500 million to be spent in the next four years for the development and mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries. Last week the government announced it would bring forward the petrol and diesel ban to 2030.

5. Homes and public buildings:

£1 billion next year into making new and existing homes and public buildings more efficient, extending the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme by a year and making public sector buildings greener and cutting bills for hospitals and schools, as part of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme. The government has set a  target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.

6. Public transport, cycling and walking:

Making cycling and walking more attractive ways to travel and investing in zero-emission public transport of the future.

7. Jet Zero and greener maritime:

Supporting difficult-to-decarbonise industries to become greener through research projects for zero-emission planes and ships.

8. Carbon capture:

Becoming a world-leader in technology to capture and store harmful emissions away from the atmosphere, with a target to remove 10MT of carbon dioxide by 2030. An extra £200 million of new funding has been earmarked to create two carbon capture clusters by the mid-2020s, with another two set to be created by 2030. This increases the total invested to £1 billion, which the government says will help to support 50,000 jobs, potentially in areas such as the Humber, Teesside, Merseyside, Grangemouth and Port Talbot.

9. Nature:

Protecting and restoring the UK’s natural environment, planting 30,000 hectares of trees every year, whilst creating and retaining thousands of jobs.

10. Innovation and finance:

Developing the cutting-edge technologies needed to reach these new energy ambitions and make the City of London the global centre of green finance.

Reactions from many green groups have been positive. Lord Deben, Chairman of the Climate Change Committee said: “Today, the Prime Minister has laid out his vision for a net zero UK. I am delighted to see the breadth of the Prime Minister’s commitment. This must now be turned into a detailed road map – so we all know what’s coming down the track in the years ahead.”

Eliot Whittington, director of policy, CISL, and Director of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group, said: “The Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan is a good step forward for climate action and the UK economy. Such a broad and all-encompassing set of plans and actions to accelerate climate action and build a sustainable competitive, zero-carbon economy is almost unprecedented.”

Frank Gordon, head of policy, REA said the plans marked “a major day for the building of green industries in the UK. The electric vehicle charging infrastructure sector stands ready to roll-out enough charge points to meet demand so long as a supportive regulatory regime is in place.”

However, Labour said the plans were “Deeply, deeply disappointing” and believe that only £4bn of the £12bn announced is new spending. Ed Miliband, shadow business secretary said, “This isn’t fundamentally a green stimulus, it’s nowhere near the scale of what is required. This announcement doesn’t remotely meet the scale of the jobs emergency or the climate emergency. France and Germany are investing tens of billions of euros. This provides, at best, £4bn of new money over several years.”

Others pointed out gaps in the plans, and support for nuclear has been questioned. Dr Jonathan Marshall, head of analysis, Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said, “Onshore wind and solar energy remain unsupported, long shots such as modular nuclear power and direct air capture may not pay off, and natural solutions to climate change – planting trees and restoring peat bogs – remain largely overlooked and ignored.”

These commitments are unquestionably an important step forward towards meeting net zero – and a send a positive signal of intent at a crucial time. But whether they meet the scale of the net zero challenge is in question – a clear path to decarbonisation ahead of 2050 is still at large.