We need to bring consumers with us on new zero journey says UK government

At the Energy UK Conference today (19/10/2023), Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Claire Coutinho says that the UK government need to have a long term plan to make sure that families and businesses have the certainty that they need as the UK transition to becoming net zero by 2050.

She said: ‘We have to ensure that our energy plans are viable. And that is what the Prime Minister’s net zero speech was about last month.

‘We are trying to set out a pragmatic approach to make sure that we can deliver effectively taking consumers and industry with us whilst we decarbonise.’

Noting that it is important for the public to have confidence in the country’s energy plans, she continued ‘I know, like businesses across the country you will want certainty. However, I would say that policies which can’t command public support won’t give you any kind of certainty. And we’ve seen that in Europe.

‘A target to decarbonise the grid by 2030, something that no other country has said it will do and which many of you in this room will not believe is doable, doesn’t give you certainty.

‘And making sure that we don’t have enough supply of things like oil and gas, leaving us dependent on foreign regimes, decimating the same communities, workers and skill sets that you will need in renewable energy in the future, that won’t give you certainty either.’

Noting that the UK has already decarbonised far more than any other country so far she said: ‘We have delivered the most decarbonisation of any major economy through careful planning and using the best of government in partnership with the innovation and enterprise of industry and the market.

‘Furthermore, we’ve set the most ambitious targets in the G7. When it comes to 2030, we’re hoping to reduce carbon emissions by 68%. That compares to the EU which is 55% and the US which is 40%.

‘But the truth is we can’t impose unaffordable extra costs on households, particularly at a time when millions of families are struggling with the cost of living. Instead, we need to bring consumers with us on the net zero journey.

‘I want people to feel nothing but unadulterated optimism when they think about what net zero means for them, the country and their children’s futures. We’re absolutely committed to those targets but we’re going to do that in a way that’s fair to family finances.’

With many consumers struggling with the cost of living crisis, she said: ‘We spent £40bn last year protecting communities and businesses.

‘This was one of the highest packages anywhere in Europe. And this year, for people on means tested benefit, they will still be getting further support in terms of the £900 cost of living payment.

‘We’ll also be supporting people through the warm home discount and we’ve of course raised benefits in line with inflation.

‘Looking further to the future, we’re going to reform markets so that they work with consumers much more effectively.’

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