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A Green Industrial Revolution?

The Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th Century propelled Britain to the forefront of the world stage. The technical, social and business innovations bought about by the First Industrial lead to the modernisation of the world and are at the core of modern life. The benefits provided by the first Industrial Revolution have come at a cost however. That cost is environmental degradation, climate change and air pollution. These are the 3 principal environmental challenges that we try to counteract at WRM Sustainability.

The Government have set out a 10-point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, in an effort to mitigate the worst environmental excesses resulting from the previous revolution. With legally binding commitment regarding carbon emissions, air pollution and waste generation, we ask will this plan provide a pathway to a Green future?

The 10 Points

The Government claims that over the previous 3 decades, UK CO2 equivalent emissions have been reduced by 43%. Despite this success the government is clear that if the UK is to become carbon net-zero by 2050, then much more needs to be done to achieve a further 57% reduction in emissions. The 10-point plan for the Green Industrial revolution is being offered up as the means by which further emission reductions can be achieved.

The 10 key points of the Government’s Green Industrial Revolution are:

  1.  Advancing Offshore Wind
  2.  Driving the Growth of Low Carbon Hydrogen
  3.  Delivering New & Advanced Nuclear Fuel
  4.  Accelerating a Shift to Zero Emission Vehicles
  5.  Green Public Transport, Cycling & Walking
  6.  Jet Zero & Green Ships
  7.  Greener Buildings
  8.  Investing in Carbon Capture, Usage & Storage
  9.  Protecting our Natural Environment
  10.  Green Finance & Innovation

The Overall Picture

At a glance, the 10-point plan provides a wide reaching and ambitious scope of policy changes, large scale infrastructure projects and behaviour change initiatives. The plan commits £12billion of funding to support these interventions and forecasts the generation of 250,000 new jobs.

Aspects of the plan are clearly scoped with spending commitments and infrastructure upgrades clearly defined. For example, the commitment to generate 40GW of electricity via offshore wind by 2030 stands out as a clear, ambitious and beneficial commitment that will help decarbonise the grid. “Greening” the grid has been the most significant factor in reducing UK emissions and this measure will help to continue decarbonising energy supply.

However, other aspects of the plan are flimsy commitments, with no strategy in place governing how actions will be achieved. For example, a commitment to install 600,000 heat pumps per year by 2028. A laudable ambition, but that is all that it is. There is not clear investment or structure in place to facilitate this. Given that the Conservative Manifesto from 2019 commented on £9.2b of funding for domestic and non-domestic energy measures, it seems strange that greater detail is not provided around this point.

These 2 examples provide a good snapshot of the plan in its entirety. Some actions are well thought out, considered, costed and planned. Whilst other interventions lack strategy and funding commitments necessary to provide confidence that they will be achieved.

The Verdict

The 10-point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution is a timely and important intervention from the Government that provides clear and strong leadership in regards to sustainability. Whilst the plan falls short in certain areas of specific actions and funding commitments, it does provide a solid high-level strategy for sustainability at the national level.

Climate change and the environment has been spoken about by the Government for years. However, meaningful action and genuine commitment has often been lacking. This 10-point plan signals a sea-change and provides a strong and clear commitment to issues of sustainability. Under this plan, it does appear as if the Government has charted a course toward a more sustainable future. Action is now required within government and across the public and private sectors to put this plan into action.

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