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Climate clock is ticking as political delays continue

Energy and the environment has risen up the public agenda in recent months, fuelled by climate change action by school children and campaigners alike.

The recent Committee on Climate Change report included far-reaching recommendations to boost the UK’s emissions targets from an 80% reduction to net zero by 2050, a move backed by the CBI and more than 100 business leaders in a recent letter to the Prime Minister.

Last month MPs also backed a motion to declare a ‘climate emergency’, adding to the momentum to act. Such momentum has undoubtedly pushed the environment back up the political agenda, yet there are fears that the issue has been set to one side thanks to the focus on both the Brexit behemoth and a new Conservatives leadership race triggered by Theresa May’s decision to resign.

Earlier this year, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced its intentions to publish its Energy White Paper this summer – it has widely been expected for July. The paper should provide the framework for the next stage of the UK’s decarbonisation journey, from setting out how the UK will increase its renewable electricity capacity by up to four-fold to a new financing model for new nuclear build to overcome the current stagnation across many of the planned projects for the next decade. It should also set out how it intends to fund such plans (although in a speech in November, Secretary of State Greg Clark reaffirmed the need to ensure that “all consumers should pay their fair share of system costs”, making it clear that industrial and commercial users will continue to pay taxes and levies to help fund the cost of decarbonisation).

It is also hoped that such a clear focus on climate change will provide the opportunity for the UK to be the first major economy to sign up to the proposed Net Zero targets, placing it amongst the most progressive and ambitious countries in the fight to tackle climate change. The CBI have willed Theresa May to make this her lasting legacy before she departs Number 10.

Whilst there has been no formal indication that either the White Paper publication or the Net Zero legislation will be delayed, there is growing concern that Westminster is too focused on other priorities to deliver any significant policy before the summer recess. In fact, Inenco’s industry insight suggests that the White Paper is likely to be delayed until September.

Furthermore, a new Prime Minister increases the risk of either delaying Brexit or leaving the EU without a deal (our recent blog and infographic explores what this could mean for business energy). Many of the leadership contenders may have a different stance on whether signing up to the Net Zero target is a positive step for the country, particularly those candidates who have not previously been known for their green credentials.

Meanwhile, talk of a general election before the end of the year could stir up even more confusion and delay, particularly with Labour’s recent comments on nationalising the energy networks and taking an even harder line on reducing carbon emissions.

This all adds up to even more uncertainty for UK plc, from the impact of Brexit on the economy to question marks over the future energy mix, including on one side the cost of the transition to the other side, where thousands of jobs across the supply chain could be created by new energy infrastructure. Yet one thing is certain: the climate clock is ticking, and kicking any decisions into the long grass could have significant impacts for the environment, on the pace of change and on the cost of action to correct the climate emergency facing the planet today.

While we wait for decisions to be made and for plans to become more clearly defined, businesses should be focusing on optimising their energy strategies, because the cost of decarbonisation will undoubtedly have an impact on their energy bills. From taking a different approach to procurement, to boosting their energy efficiency, there are numerous ways businesses can future-proof their energy strategies – and Inenco’s experts are on hand to help. Get advice from our industry insiders today – call us on 08451 46 36 26 or email