Sun. May 22nd, 2022


The UK will miss its net zero carbon targets because the government has failed to introduce “credible plans” to drive investment in key alternative technologies, such as heat pumps, a parliamentary report has warned.

Ministers have not yet explained how the transition will be funded or what policies and financial incentives they will use to deliver on their targets to reduce emissions, the study by the House of Lords industry and regulators committee said. Britain has committed to decarbonise the power grid by the mid-2030s and reaching net zero carbon emissions overall by 2050.

“There is no point planning a carbon-free energy future if you have not got a clue how you will get there or how it will be paid for,” said Lord Clive Hollick, the Labor peer who chairs the committee.

The report urged the government to review its opposition to the use of state borrowing, warning that the amount that can realistically be raised via surcharges on energy bills would not be enough to pay for the net zero transition.

Piling costs on energy bills would also put unfair pressure on consumers already bearing the brunt of soaring energy prices and would fall disproportionately on low-income groups, the committee said.

The government’s proposed funding model to pay for new nuclear power stations, known as the regulated asset base model, which imposes levies on household bills from the moment construction starts would only add to impending cost of energy, the report warned.

“Bills are regressive as the poor pay more of their income on energy costs. . . the government should look again at using greater public borrowing to fund what are huge and long-term infrastructure costs, ”it said.

The Climate Change Committee, the government’s environmental adviser, has estimated it would cost £ 50bn annually from 2030 to meet the cost of the transition to net zero.

Ministers must resolve key issues such as how to incentivise households to replace gas boilers with heat pumps and what the plans are for the 6mn homes where heat pumps may be unsuitable, the report said.

The committee also called for measures that would aid the net zero target to be explicitly added to Ofgem’s statutory duties. However, it concluded that the energy regulator should not be given a more strategic role in planning the transition.

Instead, to deliver the changes, a transformation task force should be established within the Cabinet Office and report to the prime minister. It should co-ordinate all departments and set out a clear road map for the implementation of energy policies, the report recommended.

It also added to the criticism of Ofgem for its poor oversight of the energy market, after a spike in gas prices led to the collapse of at least 29 suppliers. The report said Ofgem’s failures had “created greater cost and uncertainty for consumers.”

The report urged the regulator to adapt the price controls it applies to energy companies to ensure that they can invest in new infrastructure before it is needed.

Ofgem said it had “played a key role in driving down carbon emissions over the last 20 years” and would continue to work with the government to meet the net zero targets.

The government said: “We will meet the net zero target by 2050 and are on track to do so. Detailed measures are set out in our comprehensive Net Zero Strategy, which has been widely welcomed by a range of experts, including the independent Climate Change Committee. ”



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