Nine in 10 energy professionals fear UK will miss net-zero target

9th July 2020


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Orla Murphy

The UK will not meet its target of net-zero emissions by 2050 if it continues on its current trajectory, according to nine in 10 energy professionals recently surveyed by the Energy Institute.

The findings also show that more than half believe that the UK will miss its target of a 57% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, based on current policies.

Energy efficiency is cited as the biggest missed opportunity of the last decade, and is seen as the foremost option for plugging the emissions reduction gap for the 2030 target at the least cost.

Respondents singled out housing retrofits as the top policy for a resilient COVID-19 recovery, with four in five agreeing that stimulus should be channelled into green industries and jobs, and support for polluting sectors be made contingent on climate action.

Chris Stark, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change, commented: “The overwhelming support from energy professionals for a resilient recovery from COVID-19 should give ministers confidence to act.

“Decisions in the coming months will shape our economic recovery – and bend the path of future UK emissions.“

The Energy Institute's annual survey is based on responses from more than 350 professionals selected to represent views from oil and gas through to renewables and energy efficiency.

Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic was identified as one of the biggest challenges facing the energy industry this year, eclipsing previous years' preoccupation with Brexit.

Respondents were split on whether the virus would hasten the transition to net zero, with 38% saying it would, and 33% saying it wouldn't, although most believe that energy demand will remain subdued for an extended period.

Besides COVID-19, low-carbon energy, climate change and energy policy were the other dominant concerns identified by energy professionals this year.

As first steps, the respondents called for increased R&D funding for low-carbon aviation fuels, incentives for hydrogen heavy goods vehicles, heat pumps and hydrogen-ready boilers, and funding for CCUS projects in industrial clusters and on power stations.

“The dissatisfaction of energy professionals about current policies for net zero is a frustration we share,“ Stark continued. “This is the year to put that right, as the world's gaze falls on the UK, in the presidency of the next UN climate summit in Glasgow 2021.“

Image credit: iStock

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