Roger Harrabin the BBC Environment Analyst, penned a piece over the weekend in which he drew attention to the fact that climate change and our Net Zero target will not be reached by technology solutions alone and it will need everyone be it business or individuals, to change.
“Tackling climate change, they say, will need action right across society and the economy - with a host of new incentives, laws, rules, bans, appliance standards, taxes and institutional innovations.”
I would agree with this and it is backed up from the discussions with key clients and the stakeholders that we deal with in our Net Zero services work. We have been holding a variety of roundtables and debates over the course of the last year (more recently of course, virtual ones) in which all the participants have accepted and in many cases embraced, the fact that regulation will need to change.
These laws and rules must promote not only the new technologies we want i.e. the production, but also the change in consumer habits from the way we heat our buildings to transport and perhaps most controversially, our attitude to food i.e. the demand.
As a lawyer in this space it is a hugely exciting time and the legal profession will have a big role to play in developing the new regulatory framework that will be needed. However, as a number of our blogs have pointed out in the past, the regulation will need to be carefully constructed. More than ever before there is a need for collaboration among government departments and the key net zero sectors to make sure that the effects of a law or policy in one area do not inadvertently disadvantage efforts being made in another.
Furthermore while we agree that , regulation is needed, good regulation in the context of what we are trying to achieve with Net Zero, may mean establishing clear frameworks and boundaries without being overly prescriptive. I grant you this isn’t easy, but what we need to do is encourage change in behaviours acceptance and technology while allowing innovators latitude to develop clever solutions. If we are too prescriptive now there is a real risk that we push everyone towards todays known and proven technologies without considering what is just around the corner. The fair challenge to this is, of course, that we are in a hurry and we cannot afford to wait for perfection. Somewhere in between the 2 points seems to be the best way forward!
One thing that's crystal clear is that the UK's carbon-free future will need rules.