UK Could Do More to Harness Economic Benefits of Green Growth

  • Chris Skidmore publishes his Net Zero Review, setting out the “historic opportunity” offered by net zero.
  • Former energy minister says the UK’s leadership on tackling climate change has led to changes at home and around the world – with more than 90% of the world’s GDP now committed to net zero
  • Review makes 129 recommendations, all to seize opportunities from creating a green economy

The UK’s leadership on tackling climate change has delivered real change at home and led to a global transformation – but more should be done to reap the economic benefits that presents, Chris Skidmore says today.

Mission Zero, his Net Zero Review, makes 129 recommendations covering areas including the greater role that business can be supported to play, making better use of infrastructure and delivering more energy-efficient homes. Every one is designed to maximise economic investment, opportunities and jobs – all while working towards achieving legally binding targets to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

He urges Ministers to grasp the “historic opportunity”, highlighting how the Government’s Net Zero Strategy offers the right direction, and the right policies to do so.

Chair of the Net Zero Review, Chris Skidmore MP, said:

We should be proud of the lead the UK has taken in tackling climate change, having exceeded expectations so far in our race to net zero emissions by 2050. As essential as that is environmentally, it also puts us at an economic advantage globally.

We lead in areas including clean technologies, science, manufacturing and green finance – areas that, if managed right, can lead to new jobs and strong economic growth.

In developing this report, we have engaged with communities, economists and climate experts from across the country through more than 50 roundtables and 1800 submissions – all of which have led to the Mission Zero findings.

My recommendations are designed to make the most of this historic opportunity, covering the length and breadth of our economy, so that people in every part of the country can reap the benefits of this both in their communities, and in their pockets.

Business and Energy Secretary Grant Shapps said:

With a wealth of talent and expertise, and a track record to be proud of, the UK is well placed to ensure that tackling climate change also brings new jobs and investment for businesses and communities.

I am grateful to Chris Skidmore – the man who signed our climate commitments into law – for his detailed report today, which offers a range of ideas and innovations for us to consider as we work to grasp the opportunities from green growth.

Chris Skidmore’s proposals include:

  • Backing business – these include reviewing incentives for investment in decarbonisation, including via the tax system, and launching a Help to Grow Green campaign offering information and advice to small businesses so they can plan ahead;

  • Backing local action – these include reforming the planning system to put net zero at its heart nationally and locally, and backing at least one Trailblazer Net Zero City, Local Authority and Community that can work towards reaching net zero by 2030;

  • Delivering energy efficient homes – including legislating for the Future Homes Standard so that no new homes will be built with a gas boiler from 2025, adopting a 10-year mission to make heat pumps a widespread technology in the UK; and

  • Using infrastructure to unlock net zero – including developing a cross-sectoral infrastructure strategy by 2025 to support the building and adaptation for new green energy sources such as hydrogen to support the green economy

Official statistics show there are already around 400,000 jobs in low-carbon businesses and their supply chains across the UK, with turnover estimated at £41.2 billion in 2020. Both the British Energy Security Strategy and Net Zero Strategy aim to leverage an additional and unprecedented £100 billion of private investment, while supporting an additional 480,000 British jobs by 2030.


Responses to today’s review include:

Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Professor Lord Stern of Brentford, said:

Chris Skidmore and his team deserve great credit for carrying out a rigorous, robust, and inclusive review of the evidence on the economics of the UK’s net-zero transition. In particular, the review has argued convincingly that the transition to a net-zero economy is the growth opportunity of the 21st century, and the UK is well-placed to benefit from the increasing demand for net-zero goods and services, if it makes the right public and private investments. It also correctly highlights the critical importance of government creating an environment that is conducive to this investment by providing clarity, certainty, consistency and continuity of policy. I hope the Prime Minister and his government will respond to the review with the urgency and scale required to prevent this enormous economic opportunity from slipping through our fingers. This transition, and the investment and innovation it embodies, are at the core of the UK’s growth story for the coming decade.

Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, Nick Molho, said:

The Skidmore Review is absolutely right to emphasise that the net zero transition is a major pro-business and pro-investment opportunity. Businesses have long recognised this, a fact that is reflected in the rapidly growing number that are taking on ambitious net zero emission targets backed by clear delivery strategies. In the challenging economic and social context currently faced by the UK, a rapid shift towards net zero offers much needed investment, competitiveness and job creation opportunities for UK businesses and investors in varied sectors such as construction, energy, manufacturing, engineering, transport and finance.

The findings and recommendations of the Skidmore Review are based on an impressively comprehensive engagement with businesses and civil society, which provides a direct window into what businesses, public bodies and civil society need from the UK Government to deliver net zero and secure the economic opportunities associated with it. The Government should use the recommendations of this review to produce an updated and strengthened Net Zero Strategy early this year. It should also crack on with some of the most pressing policy recommendations highlighted in the report, such as on grid infrastructure, full power sector decarbonisation, energy efficiency in homes, resource efficiency, and business models to support the roll out of CCS, hydrogen and other low carbon solutions urgently needed by heavy industry.

Chief Executive of Aviva, Amanda Blanc, said:

I congratulate Chris and his team on such a comprehensive and ambitious Review. I hope both the Government and opposition parties will take careful note of it and together act swiftly on its recommendations. In particular, as co-chair of the UK Transition Plan Taskforce, I strongly agree that the Government should put in place its own “clear, consistent and stable transition plan” setting out the detail of how the UK will meet its climate commitments. In turn, this will unlock the business actions and investment needed to make the transition a reality.

The main recommendations to the government in the Net Zero Review are as follows, with the full report available to read here.

1) Using infrastructure to unlock net zero

  • Accelerating the implementation of the British Energy Security Strategy to update the mandate of Ofgem, creating the Future System Operator and accelerating the connection of cheaper renewables such as solar and onshore wind.
  • Developing a cross-sectoral infrastructure strategy by 2025 supporting the building and adaptation of infrastructure for electricity, hydrogen, other liquid and gaseous fuels and CO2 networks that support the green economy.
  • Reforming our approach to planning, so that where locally supported, more solar and onshore wind can be developed more easily, helping communities reap the benefits of cheaper low-carbon electricity.

2) Creating sustainable governance structures for net zero

  • Developing an over-arching government financing strategy by the end of 2023.
  • Establishing an Office for Net Zero Delivery, responsible for placing net zero delivery at the heart of Government thinking.

3) Backing businesses to go green

  • Reviewing incentives for investment in decarbonisation, including via the tax system and capital allowances, and protecting British industries from environmental undercutting by progressing plans on carbon leakage measures and providing more detail on the UK’s new Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
  • Building skills needed for the transition by driving forward the Green Jobs Taskforce recommendations and launching a ‘Help to Grow Green’ campaign, offering information and support to SMEs to plan and invest in the transition.

4) Catalysing local action

  • Reforming the planning system at local and national level to place net zero at its heart.
  • Back at least one Trailblazer Net Zero City, Local Authority and Community, with the aim for these places to reach net zero by 2030

5) Increasing transparency and engaging people

  • Expanding the government’s public reporting on net zero
  • Ramping up public information through a new engagement plan, a new carbon calculator on the carbon cost of choices, and a standardised approach to ecolabelling on products.
  • Developing a Net Zero Charter mark, acknowledging “best in class” among firms for their work in reaching net zero.

6) Delivering cleaner, cheaper, greener homes

  • Legislating for the Future Homes Standard, meaning no new homes will be built with a gas boiler from 2025, and for all homes sold to be EPC C by 2033.
  • Adopting a 10-year mission to make heat pumps a widespread technology in the UK and legislate for the end of new and replacement gas boilers by 2033 at the latest.
  • Reforming EPC ratings to create a clearer, more accessible Net Zero Performance Certificate (NZPC) for households

7) Capitalising on international leadership

  • Conducting a strategic review on the UK’s international climate leadership and introduce environmental and climate protections in future free trade agreements, removing trade barriers to environmental goods and services.

8) Setting ourselves up for 2050 and beyond

  • Ramping up investment in research and development (R&D), with a new net zero R&D and technologies roadmap up to 2050, supporting up to three 10-year demonstrator projects

Mr Skidmore was commissioned to lead his rapid review of the government’s approach to delivering its net zero target by former Secretary of State for Business and Energy Jacob Rees-Mogg last September. It followed major changes to the economic and political landscape, with Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, historically high global energy prices and high inflation.

The Review is split into two parts, with the first part exploring the opportunity, and benefits to individuals and the economy, emphasising that the UK must go further and faster to realise economic benefits. The second part sets out a roadmap for how Government and industry can work to better exploit the opportunities and catalyse action in individual sectors of the economy, enhancing the role of local authorities, communities, and the individual to deliver the green transition.

The review was informed through a call for evidence and direct engagement with businesses, organisations, local government, academia and the public. The Net Zero Review travelled to all four nations of the UK, received over 1800 responses to the call for evidence, and heard evidence at more than 50 roundtables across the country, making it one of the largest engagement exercises on net zero delivery in the UK.

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