UK Energy Policy for the 2020s: Stricter Targets & Regulations Needed

October 4, 2017 Lucie Frideling

Lee McGhie, Director of Sustainability Services at Schneider Electirc, recently attended a conference organized by the British Institute of Energy Economics (BIEE) on the UK Energy Policy and returned with some takeaways.

The BIEE aims “to encourage the exchange of ideas and information between energy professionals from different disciplines and sectors of the industry and to promote a responsible, evidence-based approach to the challenges of energy policy and tackling climate change”.

This conference brought together experts from the energy industry, financial sector, policy community and academia to explore the actions required to move UK energy policy forward.

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Carbon reduction targets need to be stronger to meet 2050 goals

The UK government committed to the Climate Change Act (CCA), to reduce emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050 (from 1990 levels) to limit the increase in global average warming to below 2 degrees Celsius. To meet these targets, the government has set five-yearly carbon budgets which currently run until 2032. The UK is currently in the second carbon budget period (2013 to 2017).

All main political parties within the UK are unified in achieving carbon reduction goals and agree that targets within the UK need to be stronger, since current policies will only deliver half the required emissions cuts. The UK met their 1st (2008-12) and 2nd (2013-17) carbon budget commitments and are on track to meet the 3rd (2018-22). However, the country is not on track to meet the 4th (2023-27) and 5th (2028-32) carbon budget.


Transport and Building Sectors will be hit hardest

  • England recently stated that it will ban the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2040, and Scotland has made a similar announcement with a more aggressive goal of 2032.
  • Companies that have large fleets of delivery vans and cars will be impacted by new regulations. 
  • The building sector has built to standards and regulations that tick the minimum standards box when building new homes, resulting in the owners powering and heating homes via traditional methods, and energy sources.
  • The UK government believes the building sector should take more responsibility and accountability, building homes to greater standards and ensuring all new homes are as close to passive as possible.
  • The gas grid will be impacted by stronger calls for low-carbon energy — heating will come under the microscope.
  • Tests are underway in Leeds with hydrogen as a replacement fuel for gas; the UK government is monitoring the outcome. 

Changes are coming to the UK market as the government aims to meet stated goals, with significant impacts expected for the building, transport and gas sectors in the near future.

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