Boris Johnson unveils 10-point plan for a greener future

The first industrial revolution harnessed the power of steam. The second saw the UK harness the power of coal to generate power. Now, a third may be upon us. The only difference? It will be green.

As Prime Minister Boris Johnson returns to isolation after interacting with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, he has unveiled an ambitious 10-point plan to transform the UK through a ‘Green Industrial Revolution.’

The sweeping measures are intended to ensure that the UK economy recovers from the current recession in a sustainable way, generating 250,000 jobs and helping deliver the ambition of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The PM is keen to ensure the country’s industrial heartlands are front and centre of this revolution, as part of his broader ‘levelling-up’ agenda.

The ten point plan :

1. Offshore wind:
Producing enough offshore wind to power every home, quadrupling how much we produce to 40GW by 2030, supporting up to 60,000 jobs

2. Hydrogen:
Working with industry aiming to generate 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 for industry, transport, power and homes, and aiming to develop the first town heated entirely by hydrogen by the end of the decade.

3. Nuclear:
Advancing nuclear as a clean energy source, across large scale nuclear and developing the next generation of small and advanced reactors, which could support 10,000 jobs.

4. Electric vehicles:
Backing our world-leading car manufacturing bases including in the West Midlands, North East and North Wales to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, and transforming our national infrastructure to better support electric vehicles.

5. Public transport, cycling and walking:
Making cycling and walking more attractive ways to travel and investing in zero-emission public transport of the future.

6. Jet Zero and greener maritime:
Supporting difficult-to-decarbonise industries to become greener through research projects for zero-emission planes and ships.

7. Homes and public buildings:
Making our homes, schools and hospitals greener, warmer and more energy efficient, whilst creating 50,000 jobs by 2030, and a target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.

8. Carbon capture:
Becoming a world-leader in technology to capture and store harmful emissions away from the atmosphere, with a target to remove 10MT of carbon dioxide by 2030, equivalent to all emissions of the industrial Humber today.

9. Nature:
Protecting and restoring our natural environment, planting 30,000 hectares of trees every year, whilst creating and retaining thousands of jobs.

10. Innovation and finance:
Developing the cutting-edge technologies needed to reach these new energy ambitions and make the City of London the global centre of green finance.

Boris gives green light to green power

The increasing shift towards using more renewable sources of power was a top priority in the PM’s 10-point plan – he intends to ensure that the UK can generate 40GW of offshore power by 2030. Not only that, but the UK Government intends to work with the necessary industries to ensure the UK has capacity for 5GW of low-carbon hydrogen production capacity as the UK enters the 2030s.

At present, 20 per cent of the UK’s energy is produced by renewable sources. In the last decade alone, the UK has been able to cut carbon emissions by 29 per cent, largely due to ditching coal power. For more information about the UK cutting its reliance on coal, read our piece here.

However, sustained drops in emission levels will require more targeted policies, or the UK risks missing its allocated carbon budget in the coming decade, according to the Climate Change Committee (CCC). The financial crisis a decade ago plus the disruption caused by the ongoing pandemic were factors which artificially depressed emissions, masking a lack of strategy, according to the CCC.

EVs have a part to play

Part of the intended ‘levelling-up’ agenda laid out by the PM includes ensuring that car manufacturers in the West Midlands, North East and North Wales are supported in producing the next generation of electric vehicles. There is a sense of urgency to this task, as the government intends to put a ban on petrol, diesel and hybrid car sales by the mid-2030s.

Not only does the government want us to be driving cleaner cars – they want the general public to embrace more pro-active ways of moving around, including public transport, cycling and walking. The homes we live in are also intended to be built in a greener way, with better insulation, while using new heat-pump technology.

In order to protect the UK’s natural environment, the government also intends to plant 30,000 hectares of trees each year, replenishing the UK’s woodlands.

The PM has laid out some lofty plans for this ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ – the real test is to see whether hearts and minds can be won over, and whether the UK can use the next decade to become a leading example in how to decarbonise, or whether the 2020s will simply become a wasted opportunity.

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