The independent net zero review, Mission Zero, has been published by MP Chris Skidmore, to explore the best ways to maximise business and economic growth whilst working towards the net zero target.
Commissioned last September, the review involved engaging with businesses, the public and climate experts and resulted in 129 recommendations for the Government1.
From this, Mr Skidmore urged ministers to grasp the “historic opportunity” that net zero presents, saying that the UK should be proud of the lead it has taken in tackling climate change. The review however states the importance of the Government supporting businesses, describing them as “critical” to the net zero transition. He adds that “their investment and innovation will bring low carbon technology to the mass market. They will drive many of the benefits we will all experience from net zero, not least economic growth”.
The review is split into two parts – with the first explaining the opportunity and benefits to business, individuals and the economy as a whole, and the second outlining how this can be achieved.
The review recommends the Government should consider the following to support businesses:
- Reviewing business incentives to invest in decarbonisation
The Government should review how the Treasury incentivises businesses to invest in decarbonisation and improve energy efficiency. This could be through the tax system, business rate reform or capital allowances, helping to remove potential financial barriers to adopting carbon reduction programmes.
- Providing clarity on the future of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)
The review recognises that the UK’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) – a cap and trade scheme which caps the total level of greenhouse gas emissions a business can emit – provides a clear incentive for businesses to invest in decarbonisation. The review points out that the cap only runs until 2030, and having no plan for beyond that date is contributing to delays in investments. It says the UK Government should work with the rest of the ETS Authority – which also includes the Scottish and Welsh Governments and Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – to develop a pathway for the scheme to 2040. This would provide clarity and certainty to businesses’ future decarbonisation strategies.
- Building the skills needed for the net zero transition
The delivery of previous Government recommendations and commitments set out in the Green Jobs Taskforce and the 2021 Net Zero Strategy should be driven forward, with regular reporting on progress made. These included targets, training and provisions for “green” skills and jobs.
The report also recommends further support for businesses taking on apprentices, and suggests training courses related to net zero should be accelerated to rapidly upskill and retrain the existing workforce.
For small and medium-sized businesses, a Help to Grow Green campaign should be launched to offer information resources and vouchers to help them plan and invest in the net zero transition.
- Recognising businesses’ sustainability efforts
A “Net zero charter mark” is proposed to recognise the efforts of businesses that are decarbonising their operations and supply chains. Not only would this promote a firm’s carbon credentials, it would also give investors and other stakeholders confidence in how a business is progressing towards net zero.
- Protecting industrial businesses from environmental undercutting
Progress should be made on the Government consultation on a range of ‘carbon leakage’ mitigation options. Carbon leakage occurs when operations – and their associated emissions – are transferred across jurisdictions to countries with less ambitious carbon policies, which can lead to a net increase in global emissions. As the UK’s generally more ambitious climate targets and policies can often bring higher carbon prices, the Government is looking at measures such as a carbon border adjustment mechanism which could help level the playing field for British industry against their international counterparts. For energy-intensive businesses, this could reverse the risk that carbon leakage currently poses to growth in the UK, preventing the ‘offshoring’ of production and jobs.
These are just some of the review’s 129 recommendations, which shows the scale of the opportunity the Government and businesses have. To learn more, you can read the full review here.
Ian Brothwell, Managing Director at Bryt Energy, said: “This review is a comprehensive action plan for the Government to take notice of. It reflects the fact businesses are absolutely critical in driving the net zero transition and, by working collaboratively with the right support, this goal is firmly within our grasp. We join the report’s authors in urging ministers to grab the ‘historic opportunity’ offered by net zero, and to use the UK’s leading position in tackling climate change to its full potential.”