London — The UK's 10-point climate change plan has the policies to bridge the gap between the aspirations in the Committee on Climate Change's sixth carbon budget "and where we are now," Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwasi Kwarteng said Jan. 19.
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In December 2020 the influential CCC recommended a 78% reduction in UK territorial emissions between 1990 and 2035 in its sixth carbon budget report. The new target effectively brings forward the UK's previous 80% reduction target by nearly 15 years.
In evidence to a BEIS Committee meeting, Kwarteng said legislation would be presented "in the summer that will seek to put into law the targets put forward by the CCC's sixth carbon budget."
The business secretary also confirmed the timing of a number of crucial consultations mentioned in the Energy White Paper.
"I've commissioned policies on industrial decarbonization, on hydrogen and on heat and buildings – once we've published those over the next two or three months, we'll be into a crucial implementation period, with a clear pathway to delivery," he said.
The minister acknowledged there was a gap between projections in December's Energy White Paper and the sixth carbon budget, but that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's 10-point plan on Nov. 18, 2020 had identified a range of initiatives to bridge the gap, including a 40 GW offshore wind target, a 5 GW hydrogen target, support for new nuclear and policies to drive the transition to electric mobility (see table).
Challenged to match the billions of euros being committed to sustainable hydrogen in the European Union, Kwarteng said public funding was not a fair metric of success.
"We have to get away from idea that success relies on spending from the public purse. Some GBP94 billion has been committed to offshore wind, where the UK is a world leader, but the vast majority of that has come from the private sector," he said.
The way to achieve success in hydrogen and in carbon capture, utilization and storage was to incentivize private investment, Kwarteng said. The UK had done this for renewables and would so for other net zero policy areas, he said.
On nuclear, the minister said he would not pre-judge selection of EDF's Sizewell C project in Suffolk as the next large reactor to be proceed, but that there were clear benefits from doing so due to lessons learnt at the in-construction Hinkley Point C project.
The government has committed to secure delivery of at least one new large reactor before the end of this parliament, the unit to be operational by around 2031.
"If we do Hinkley Point C on time, which looks likely or with only a short delay, then we can deliver Sizewell C in a timely way too. Nuclear is essential – we've done the modelling and we need that firm power to balance the system. I am, of course, open to other ideas [for dispatchable generation]," he said.
The business secretary acknowledged there was "slight tension" between the recent go-ahead for a Cumbrian coal mine "and our avowed intention to take coal off the grid."
"We're looking to take thermal coal off the grid, and intend to do so by 2024. This, however, is coking coal for industrial use, it was a local planning decision, and the argument is a fair one that we'd be importing this coal anyway," Kwarteng said.
Meanwhile, a North Sea oil and gas transition deal is due to be finalized early this year, well ahead of a deadline set for the end of this parliament. "Any form of deal has to have full commitment to net zero and decarbonization," he said.
UK TEN-POINT CLIMATE CHANGE PLAN, NOV. 18, 2020