IEMA members and other expert stakeholders were joined on an online roundtable today (24.04.23) by the Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Net Zero - Kerry McCarthy MP - to discuss the challenges and opportunities for the UK’s economy in delivering on the net zero transition. In this blog, Ben Goodwin, IEMA’s Head of Policy, looks at the main discussion points.
Photo credit: Contact information for Kerry McCarthy - MPs and Lords - UK Parliament

With the government having recently set out its revised plans for delivering on our 2050 net zero target, this roundtable session was a timely opportunity to examine those plans and to understand what more organisations and businesses working across the breadth of the economy believe is required.

On what was dubbed ‘green day’, IEMA’s initial reaction to the government’s updated net zero plans were mixed. Although we were very encouraged to see an emphasis being placed on the development of green skills and jobs, it was disappointing to see limited action on longstanding challenges such as improving energy efficiency in homes and buildings.

The need for targeted policy and investment in building retrofit to drive energy efficiency was also one of the initial discussion points at today’s roundtable. This was followed by contributions focused on the policy gaps that remain in relation to industrial decarbonisation, alongside the lack of alignment between the UK’s plans on climate and nature.

The need for planning reforms to unblock the deployment of low-carbon technologies at scale was also a key talking point, with grid connectivity often slow because of the time it takes for [good] projects to navigate the system.

There was a sense that an opportunity had been missed with the government choosing not to adopt the Skidmore review’s recommendation to setup a net zero delivery body to co-ordinate action across Whitehall. Even with the creation of the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, the sentiment was that the approach to net zero delivery across government and in how it interfaces with industry continues to be too disjointed.

The Shadow Minister who was provided with the opportunity to set out the opposition’s view on delivering net zero, centred her remarks on the Green Prosperity Plan that Labour has developed.

The plan would see £28bn of capital funding per annum invested into the low carbon transition, with £6bn of this each year targeted towards retrofitting building stock to become more energy efficient. The development of the skills and jobs to do this was acknowledged as critical, with previous well intended policies in this area having been held back, in part, because of significant workforce gaps.

IEMA have consistently said that the imperative on net zero is for rapid action. So even though there are still some obvious gaps in the pathway to delivery, it is now important that industry can get on and work with government on overcoming where the policy shortfalls are. What we don’t need is another period of pause and review, but rather an agile process that enables solutions to the issues and challenges above as we go.

The next session in our public affairs roundtable series will be held on 10th May when we will be joined by Chris Skidmore MP who delivered the aforementioned review of the government’s net zero strategy.

If you would like to find out more about future roundtables, then please get in touch at [email protected].

Photo of Ben goodwin
Ben Goodwin

Director of Policy and Public Affairs, IEMA, IEMA

Ben is Director of Policy and Public Affairs at IEMA. In this capacity he looks after the delivery of IEMAs core policy, practice and public affairs activities across a range of environmental and sustainability issues. Prior to joining the organisation Ben worked in several similar policy roles at organisations including the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Renewable Energy Association.


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