29th September 2023    |    Insights

Net Zero needs to be a long-term commitment

The UK government is in an unenviable position – continue at pace to achieve net zero at significant cost to the Treasury and the public – or put the brakes on delivering the plan. Last week the decision was to scale back certain initiatives.

As a business that works with a variety of companies and even bigger corporations across the UK, we understand that today, businesses have to be savvy and smart with their money. 

We are politically agnostic. Business and clients are our focus and we endeavour to work with the principles and economic framework of whichever government is in power to help drive growth for our clients and their people.

As a business we are acutely aware of the climate challenge. We also understand that being bold and having a vision is important: to future growth and achieving goals. That’s why the recent net zero news presents some concerns.

We clearly acknowledge that from a consumer perspective finances are tight. But what means testing has been done on the electorate’s view on net zero other than the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by election? Does that microcosm of the capital say enough to represent the recent net zero scale back? 

The climate emergency will not wait. Let’s repeat that – the climate emergency will not wait. That is a very sad fact. It is inexorable and relentless. It is also based on very simple science: the planet is overheating. If we do not reduce emissions as outlined in the Paris Agreement, the Earth’s temperature will continue to rise, leading to more severe and frequent heat waves, extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and loss of biodiversity. To the point where it becomes irreversible. By limiting the planet’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100, the hope is to stave off severe climate disruptions that could exacerbate hunger, conflict and drought worldwide.

Barack Obama put it more succinctly – “No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”

Finding funds for climate initiatives is not just an option; it is an obligation governments owe to their citizens and the planet.

Many businesses are championing remarkable initiatives to combat climate change. Yet, the question that looms large is whether enough is being done to make the public and other prospective partners aware of these efforts. 

We have the privilege of working closely with Agilico and Sunamp, both of whom are at the forefront of developing strategies and technologies to achieve ambitious net-zero targets. And it is encouraging to see the media engaging with some of this content marketing based on the exciting initiatives that these businesses are pioneering to address the climate emergency.

Seeing their vision and technology first hand as we work with them in partnership tells us there is enough innovation to make a positive impact on the environment. 

Scaling back initiatives that were originally conceived with net-zero ambitions at their heart is therefore a worrying move. 

The recent decision to scale down some of the government’s most significant net-zero commitments, including the delay in phasing out new gas boilers and postponing the ban on new diesel and petrol cars, was positioned as a pragmatic move. Costs to households will be reduced by delaying the ban on new gas boilers to 2035. Similarly, the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars has been pushed back from 2030 to 2035. Additionally, there have been retreats from other net-zero goals, such as ditching tougher energy efficiency rules for landlords and delaying a ban on oil boilers off the gas grid. Yes these may be pragmatic in the context of the current economic landscape but the climate challenge needs more than a short-term fix. 

The climate cannot afford to wait another five years for the electric car revolution, and we know that a variety of more sustainable heating products are available now, today, on the market. Air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps are just two. And hot water generation is available sustainably from our client Sunamp – who have an innovative solution that installers are taking to the market.

Rishi Sunak stated, “Our political system rewards short-term decision-making that is holding our country back.”

Precisely. It is short term thinking that is the challenge. This is the very reason that a longer term strategic vision is better. We need net zero to be core to the government (whomever it is) for the next generation … and the one after that. By investing in net zero – and the technologies that help accelerate it – we will create jobs and growth – and we will contribute to the net zero agenda. 

Businesses rely on certainty to make significant investments, and policy shifts of the nature we have recently seen feel very opportunistic. The real opportunity is to grasp net zero. Whatever government of whatever political affiliation. This goes beyond party politics.

Businesses have a great opportunity to take the initiative here. We can all do our bit to drive forward net zero. Through our own efforts and through collaborating with partners. 

As the party political conferences beckon there is much self analysis to do. Is any government content with developing strategies that will negatively impact the future stability and longevity of our planet? That is the question…