Now that the government has started to ease the lockdown people are beginning to consider the UK's (and indeed the world’s) economic recovery and many people are advocating that reducing carbon emissions should be a key part of any recovery package.
The Committee for Climate Change has stated that reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change should be integral to the UK’s recovery package and that climate investments should be used to support economic recovery and jobs. It has set out six key principles to rebuild a cleaner and more resilient economy which include using climate investments to support economic recovery and jobs and ensuring the recovery does not lock-in greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, more than 200 central bankers, a Group of 20 finance ministers and top academics concluded in a study that economic recovery programmes should target renewable energy projects and clean R&D investments.
One clean power technology that has huge potential (and that we have blogged about before) is hydrogen. If hydrogen is stored underground it could provide back-up power for electricity grids and it also has potential in industrial uses such as steelmaking and heavy transport where traditional renewables are unsuitable. Hydrogen is currently at a similar stage of development to wind and solar in the mid-2000s, however, BloombergNEF estimates that hydrogen could meet 24% of the world’s energy needs by 2050. Government-backed demand inducing policies, such as subsidies which bring the cost of green hydrogen below conventional sources of energy, would be instrumental to achieving this and would also provide a much needed stimulus for the economy. Such policies would provide a long term benefit to the economy, the energy sector and the climate.
There is a chance as we start to rebuild our economy to invest in green technology that will help us transition to a net-zero emissions future. Hopefully this is a direction that both the government and investors choose to take. There is certainly a lot of public support for renewable energy projects with 82% of people in the UK’s latest Public Attitudes Tracker in favour of renewable energy.
CCC Chairman, Lord Deben, said: “The COVID-19 crisis has shown the importance of planning well for the risks the country faces. Recovery means investing in new jobs, cleaner air and improved health. The actions needed to tackle climate change are central to rebuilding our economy. The Government must prioritise actions that reduce climate risks and avoid measures that lock-in higher emissions.”