What is the government’s clean growth strategy?

An ambitious clean growth strategy setting out how the UK is leading the world in cutting carbon emissions to combat climate change while driving economic growth, has been published. We take a look at what it means for businesses.

As part of its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions on a national scale, the government has launched the Clean Growth Strategy – outlining its proposed approach to building a lower-carbon future for the UK.

The comprehensive document was compiled by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and you can download and read it in full here. Don’t have time to trawl through all 165 pages? Fear not, because business gas specialist Flogas Britain has done the hard work for you. Just read on for a summary of the strategy’s key points, and what they mean for UK homes and businesses.

What is the UK’s climate change commitment?

First things first, it’s important to understand the background legislation that brought the Clean Growth Strategy about.

In 2008, the UK introduced the Climate Change Act, and through this became the first nation in the world to self-impose a legally binding carbon reduction target. The crux of it? To reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels).

How close are we to meeting the target?

BEIS figures published in March 2017 reveals the UK is well on its way to meeting this target, with overall carbon emissions having dropped by 42 per cent since 1990. While this progress is encouraging, the government acknowledges that there is still plenty more work to be done – and that’s where proposals like the Clean Growth Strategy come in.

How can the Clean Growth Strategy help?

In a nutshell, the policies and proposals set out in the Clean Growth Strategy aim to accelerate the pace of ‘clean growth’ in two ways: by decreasing emissions, and by increasing economic growth. With that in mind, the two guiding objectives underpinning the strategy are:

  • To meet our domestic commitments at the lowest possible net cost to UK taxpayers, consumers and businesses.
  • To maximise the social and economic benefits for the UK from this transition.

To turn this vision into a reality, the government has pledged to roll out lower-carbon processes, systems and technologies nationwide – doing so in the most cost-effective way possible for businesses and homes alike.

What are the Clean Growth Strategy’s key proposals?

The strategy’s proposals focus on these six key areas, which together are responsible for 100 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions:

  • Improving business and industry efficiency (25 per cent of UK emissions)
  • Improving our homes (13 per cent of UK emissions)
  • Accelerating the shift to low-carbon transport (24 per cent of UK emissions)
  • Delivering clean, smart, flexible power (21 per cent of UK emissions)
  • Enhancing the benefits and value of our natural resources (15 per cent of UK emissions)
  • Leading the public sector (2 per cent of UK emissions)

You can find the full list of 50 pledges in this executive summary.

What does this mean for homes and businesses?

Essentially, this means that homes, businesses and industrial operations will be encouraged and supported by the government to minimise their carbon footprint in a variety of ways. A major focus will be reassessing the fuels we use for jobs like heating, cooking, and powering industrial and manufacturing processes – and embracing cleaner, greener alternatives.

This not only means boosting uptake of renewable technologies (e.g. heat pumps, biomass boilers and solar panels) in the long term, but also favouring cleaner conventional fuels over more polluting ones. For example, for off-grid homes and businesses, the strategy sets out specific plans to phase out high-carbon forms of fossil fuels like oil. As the lowest-carbon conventional off-grid fuel, oil to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) conversions will play a key part in replacing oil in rural parts of the country.

Natural gas will remain a popular choice for buildings that are connected to the mains network – not only because of its affordability and accessibility, but also because it is the lowest-carbon fossil fuel available. Flogas, which specialises in highly competitive commercial mains gas, expects to see this part of its business continue to go from strength to strength.

The company, which has been an expert in the energy sector for more than 30 years’, also predicts that the ‘green gas’ phenomenon (natural gas injected with a proportion of environmentally friendly biogas) will grow in popularity as the Clean Growth Strategy rolls out.

Reaction to the Clean Growth Strategy

There has been plenty of support from key industry figures following the unveiling of the Clean Growth Strategy.

Lee Gannon, managing director of Flogas, says, “Through the publication of its Clean Growth Strategy, the government has made clear its intention to reduce carbon emissions from off-grid UK homes and businesses. Natural gas is affordable, versatile, widely available and – most importantly – emits significantly less carbon than the likes of coal and oil. As such, it will continue to play a central role as the UK works towards cleaning up its energy landscape. We look forward to working alongside policymakers and wider industry stakeholders to make the Clean Growth Strategy the success that it deserves to be.”

Trade body Oil & Gas UK also supports the strategy. Mike Tholen, its upstream policy director, comments, “Oil & Gas UK welcomes the government’s commitment to technology in the strategy, especially with regards to carbon abatement measures such as carbon capture, usage and storage. Oil & Gas UK looks forward to working with the government to see how these technologies can further reduce emissions across the economy.”

Owen Gough

Owen Gough

Owen Gough is a reporter for SmallBusiness.co.uk. He has a background in small business marketing strategies and is responsible for writing content on subjects ranging from small business finance to technology...

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