Most energy professionals say UK is off track for net zero: The UK is currently off track to reach net zero by 2050 say almost 90% of energy professionals.

The Energy Institute’s latest Energy Barometer report makes the gloomy suggestion, the report surveyed more than 350 UK professionals from across the sector – the results show for the interim 2030 target, over half believe the country is even off track unless decisive and urgent policy action is taken and reveal workers believe slow progress on tackling emissions could undermine the UK’s credibility as the host of the Glasgow based COP26 discussions next year.

The foremost challenge for the UK as the host of the climate conference identified by the survey is to galvanise increased emission reduction ambition from other countries.

80% of professionals urge the government to implement a green recovery and say they want to see government stimulus funds channelled into sustainable industries and jobs, stressing that support for polluting and emissions-intensive sectors must be made contingent on climate action,

As well as overwhelmingly supporting plans to ‘build back better’, the professionals questioned said taking over from the largely Brexit-based concerns of 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the biggest challenges facing the energy industry this year.

Despite two-thirds of respondents who do not believe the energy industry itself is doing enough to decarbonise and cite energy efficiency as the biggest missed opportunity of the last decade, a third of respondents’ own organisations have already publicly committed to a net zero target – professionals note this would prove the most affordable way to close the emissions reduction gap by 2030, with more respondents singling out retrofits of the existing stock of houses than any other action for a resilient recovery.

To deliver on net zero by 2050, they add that there needs to be a focus on transport and low carbon heat, as well as technologies such as carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS).

Largely due to lockdown reductions in energy demand, passenger journeys, industrial activity and emissions, 33% expect it will slow progress towards these goals, while around 38% of those questioned say the pandemic will hasten the transition to net zero.

The government is currently not doing enough to accelerate towards net zero is believed by as many as 70%, although many cited the decline of coal in the electricity mix and renewable growth as the two ‘stand-out’ emissions reduction successes of the last decade, enabled by falling costs and stable government policy.

There must be a focus on funding and incentivising low carbon aviation fuels, heat pumps, hydrogen-ready boilers, hydrogen heavy goods vehicles and pilot CCUS projects moving forwards and suggest this will happen alongside the scaling down the sales of fossil fuels by oil and gas companies, which will be largely replaced by low carbon liquids and gases, electricity and other services.

EI President and former CEO of National Grid, Steve Holliday FREng FEI, told ELN: “The energy efficient retrofit of housing is identified as the number one route both to recovery and net zero – energy efficiency has come up every year and it’s no surprise it’s here up again – absolutely, really loud and clear, it’s the biggest issue.

“We’re clearly not on track to our 2030 interim target at the moment, I believe the energy professions are absolutely right – this is the decade of delivery, this is the decade we really need to get going, if we continue to emit carbon at the rate that we are, whatever action we take in the 2030s and 2040s, we’ll have used up too much of our carbon budget by then, so we really need to take action this decade.”

Most energy professionals say UK is off track for net zero

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