Political insights — weekly round-up

Each week, Greenhouse Public Affairs will provide a policy and political insights report across sectors including energy, transport and the environment. You can sign up to our weekly round-up here.

Energy

This week the big ticket item was the first Post Net-Zero budget – for our analysis of announcements relating to R&D, Energy, Transport and the Environment take a read on our blog  

Energy trends published by BEIS covering Quarter 3 of 2019 show renewables were up 16% on the same period in 2018, with the highest levels of renewables output on record at 38.9%. For a detailed breakdown of GW and TWhs by technology check out the statistics published quarterly.

Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, addressed the UN at a pre-COP26 meeting setting out the government’s priorities for 2020, including adaptation and resilience, natural habitat protection, realising the energy transition and achieving zero-carbon road transport . The Minister underlined that we must ‘unleash the finance which will make all of this possible and power the shift to a zero carbon economy’. A clear call to action for the private and investment sectors. The OECD estimates we need 7 trillion dollars up to 2030 to fulfil the Paris Agreement – you can read the Ministers whole speech here

The  Energy Systems Catapult published a new report this week, concluding that Net Zero by 2050 is achievable but only with scaling across technologies, significant change in land use and behaviour change. Take a look at their various scenario planning to deliver decarbonisation.

The leading thinktank IPPR’s Environmental Justice Commission have also launched a report estimating that the government must increase investment on climate and environment measures from £17bn to £50bn per year to reach net-zero. The commission is chaired by former Labour leader Ed Miliband and Green MP Caroline Lucas, both suggesting that this week’s Budget was a “litmus test” of the commitment the current administration has towards climate change mitigation and our climate emergency.

Transport

As highlighted in our Budget analysis blog, the Budget included a number of commitments around transport and infrastructure, including:

  • Tax relief on red diesel will be removed for the majority of sectors. However, it will remain for rail, fishing and domestic heating.
  • £500m to support the rollout of new rapid EV charging hubs, so that drivers are never more than 30 miles away from being able to charge up their car.
  • A new £2.5bn pothole fund – enough to fill 50 million potholes by the end of this Parliament.
  • £27bn committed to the nation’s roads highways and local roads.
  • Commitment to fund Manchester-Leeds leg of Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  • £532 million for consumer incentives for ultra-low emission vehicles. As part of that:
    • The Government will provide £403 million for the plug-in car grant (PICG), extending it to 2022-23.
    • Recognising that the market for other ultra-low emission vehicles is still at an early stage of development, the government will also provide £129.5 million to extend the plug-in grants for vans, taxis and motorcycles to 2022-23.

Recognising that the market for other ultra-low emission vehicles is still at an early stage of development, the government will also provide £129.5 million to extend the plug-in grants for vans, taxis and motorcycles to 2022-23.

As noted in the Budget, the Road Investment Strategy 2 has been published. The paper presents:

  • The long-term vision for what the strategic road network should look like in 2050, and the steps to help realise this.
  • The performance specification setting out the expectations for Highways England and the strategic road network, including metrics and indicators measuring the performance of both Highways England and the network against outcomes.
  • The investment plan of how money will be invested in operations, maintenance, renewals and enhancements of the road areas affected.
  • A statement of funds confirming that £27.4 billion will be provided over the period to Highways England to do this work​.

Environment and COP26

The Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy has published a report showing that a well-designed carbon tax could leave low-income households better off, and help drive the transition to a net zero economy.

A carbon tax with a broader base, which is distributional fair and consistent with Paris climate goals could add £216 per year on average to households.

The House of Lords is set to explore the current state of negotiations on rules for international carbon markets, in advance of COP26. The session is open to the public, and will take place on Wednesday 11 March at 12noon. Topics of discussion are expected to include: 

  • Why international carbon markets are important;
  • Outstanding issues of contention, such as double counting and carryover credits;
  • What would be the ideal outcome at COP26;
  • What the Government needs to do ahead of COP26 to broker an agreement.

The Committee on Climate Change has welcomed some new measures in the Budget, but says new investment must now be supported by longer-term policies. Chris Stark, CEO of CCC, says:

This Budget doesn’t close the climate policy gap, but it does put a spotlight on the National Infrastructure Strategy, and the Treasury’s Net Zero funding review.

A number of critical announcements required to drive down emissions in line with the Government’s commitment to become a Net Zero economy by 2050 are still pending.

If you would like to talk to us about political engagement and public affairs, email us at public.affairs@greenhousepr.co.uk

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