Achieving net zero is fundamental to the future of the economy - our response to the Skidmore Review

Fri, 10/28/2022 - 11:45


Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission has submitted a response to the Government’s Net Zero Strategy Review call for evidence. 

The review aims “to ensure [the Government is] delivering net zero in a way that is pro-business and pro-growth.” The Commission’s response sets out our position that achieving net zero is fundamental to the future of the economy (see downloads, below).

The review was commissioned in September 2022 by then Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, who appointed Chris Skidmore to undertake the review. By the submission deadline of 27 October, Grant Schapps had replaced Mr Rees-Mogg and Rishi Sunak had replaced Liz Truss as Prime Minister. At the time of writing, the Net Zero Review is continuing.

Investing in net zero creates jobs

We have known since the Stern Report in 2006 that investing in climate action now protects against far greater future costs arising from not doing so. The Commission also forecast that investing 1% of our regional income to tackle climate change could cut our regional energy bill by £2.4bn per year, and create 33,000 years of new employment. This will boost productivity, protect and create jobs and address important social concerns, especially relating to fuel poverty.

With huge swathes of our region (especially around the Humber estuary) being exposed to significant climate-related risks, we must adapt and become more resilient. There is significant potential to pursue net zero and climate resilience in a joined up way, for example through peatland restoration.

Lack of consistent national policies

Overwhelmingly, we see the major obstacles to climate action as the lack of consistent regulations and policies to enable good decision-making and business confidence, and lack of powers and resources for delivery of climate action measures. For example, the scrapping, in 2015, of the requirement for all new homes to be zero-carbon by 2016 has resulted in around 800,000 additional homes being built across the UK that will require retrofitting if we are to achieve net-zero targets.

Achieving a just transition to a low-carbon economy is a top priority. Climate change already impacts more on disadvantaged communities, and it is essential that climate action is combined with action both to reduce existing disadvantage and to avoid creating additional inequalities. Our Climate Action Plan for Yorkshire & Humber notes that 360,000 people in our region work in industries with high carbon emissions. How we include, involve and support people in these industries to adapt and thrive as the region progresses to net zero is crucial.

Lower income households will face a “double whammy”, as rising energy prices will have a greater impact on their living costs, and it may be harder for them to decarbonise through retrofitting their homes. We need government to give consistent, determined support to address these issues.

Opportunities for food and farming

There are also great opportunities in the food and farming sector. Decarbonisation measures can go together with adapting rural economies and landscapes to a changing climate, for example through nature-based farming methods and environmental land management.

We conclude our response with Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission’s key asks for national policy changes, as set out in our letter to the Prime Minister, sent yesterday. These include strengthening the implementation of the Government’s 25-Year Environment Plan, support for green jobs and skills, a national strategy for retrofitting homes for net-zero, and an aviation strategy that is in line with the UK’s legally binding carbon budgets.

Photo: Luke Thornton, Unsplash