Energy Managers are ideally placed to be leading the drive towards net zero and are already leading the charge with access to energy consumption data, energy tariff information and their unique insight on the sites they manage.
Energy managers don’t need to wait for politicians to tell them that tackling climate change is a real business issue now and they are taking action now
But as the inevitable political posturing and promises ensue on the pre-election campaign trail, it is evident that climate change is higher up the agenda than it has ever been before for all parties.
Whether it’s the Greta effect, appeal from Attenborough and or the unequivocal steer from eleven thousand experts across 153 countries, the message is clear that climate change is real and must be addressed.
The results of a recent YouGov poll revealed that over 50% of the electorate will be influenced by each parties policies on climate change so it’s no surprise that politicians are finally starting to take this seriously but what’s behind the political soundbites and what real impact will it have?
In all cases how the parties propose to achieve their pledges is somewhat unclear.
Theresa May’s last hurrah was to enshrine the UK’s commitment to Net Zero emissions by 2050 in legislation.
The new Conservative government has pledged to double science and research spending to £18bn, although how much of this will be channelled towards new green technology is not specified.
They have however previously said they will increase EV charging points and increase UK capacity from 30GW to 40GW by 2030 with more on-shore wind and solar projects. It would create “clusters” of carbon capture and storage expertise around the country for £800m in the next decade, and a cabinet-level committee will oversee the commitment to reach its target of net zero carbon by 2050.
However, after reading todays (24th November 2019) Conservative Party manifesto launch makes it clear climate change is not that high on their agenda. Despite ‘Reaching Net Zero by 2050 with investment in clean energy solutions and green infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions and pollution’ being one of 6 guarantees stated upfront it took until page 55 on the manifesto document to find anything on the subject, where finally a whole page was dedicated to climate change and protecting the environment.
The Conservatives do not have a great track record for supporting low carbon energy generation and having scrapped the feed in tariff without a meaningful replacement and have presided over a regulatory framework with conflicting agendas, as demonstrated by Ofgem’s targeted charging review which effectively reduces the incentive for organisations to deploy onsite renewable energy generation.
All the other parties support the drive to net zero but vary in in terms of ambition and approach.
Tackling climate change is front and centre in Labours manifesto a new ‘green deal’ or ‘green industrial revolution, accelerating decarbonisation and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.
The fact they include their climate change plans under a heading “Economy and Energy” gives the perception they are acutely aware of the importance of the transition to low carbon energy generation is to economic growth and that they are not mutually exclusive.
Funded through state investment, Labour plan to create a £250bn Green Transformation Fund. Their aim is to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.
However, the section in the manifesto regarding nationalising the supply arms of the “big 6” suggests a fundamental lack of understanding of the structure of the energy supply industry.
The Liberal Democrats plan to support more off-shore wind and solar power and are aiming for 80% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030 they plan to bring back the green investment bank which was sold off by George Osbourne to Macquarie and have set a target of 2045 for net zero, they also propose to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030.
A bold and somewhat controversial plan from the Greens is a £1trillion pledge to tackle climate change, £100bn per annum over ten years by scrapping by scrapping Trident, HS2, nuclear power and legalising and taxing recreational drugs. The Green Party also has a target date of 2030 for net zero. Whether this is genuinely feasible is up for debate.
Regardless of what happens on December 12th – Net Zero targets have to be met and based on the current trajectory we are a long way off. The Committee for Climate Change forecast in May 19, before the UK Government announced its net zero target, that the UK will miss its 4th and 5th target budgets.
Additionally a worrying recent YouGov B2B poll has shown that despite these targets being supported by all parties, a third (31%) of businesses say they have no plans to be net carbon neutral at all. 46% of businesses have either made or have plans underway to be carbon neutral by 2050. These worrying statistics suggest businesses don’t know where to start when it comes to understanding what can be done to reduce their emissions and it is not yet a business priority.
Energy Managers Role
Although many politicians are only just waking up to the need to address climate change. Energy Managers in many organisations have been ploughing this furrow for many years. We have seen many examples of business leaders putting carbon reduction and onsite generation at the very core of their business strategy incentivised by the Streamlined Energy & Carbon Reporting (SECR) and the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) which are pushing energy efficiency further up the board room agenda.
As an accountant no longer involved directly with selling grid supplied energy I champion onsite generation of energy simply because, if the system is sized correctly the business case stacks up both financially and environmentally.
By using tools such as the OnGen Expert™ and OnEfficiency™ they can easily identify the measures that will yield the best carbon reduction opportunities and offer the best return on investment.
This years forthcoming EMEX event is arguably the most pivotal regardless of which party has the keys to number 10, there has never been a better time to drive this hugely required step change.