The Climate Assembly report: key findings for the energy sector
The UK Climate Assembly, a group of 108 people chosen to be representative of the UK population, was set up to answer the question:
"How should the UK meet its target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050?"
The findings from the Assembly were recently published in a comprehensive report. The document sets out recommendations for a range of areas, including heat and energy use in the home, travel on land, and air travel, reflecting the wide-ranging changes required to achieve the country's net zero target.
As an editor specialising in climate change and sustainability, I have been following the Climate Assembly with interest. Here are some of the recommendations and policy suggestions that caught my eye with regard to the future of the energy industry in the UK.
In terms of transport on land, the shift to low-carbon vehicles was seen as important, with assembly members recommending policies such as the use of grants for individuals and businesses to purchase low-carbon cars and government investment in low-carbon buses and trains. A vote revealed that, according to the Assembly, the top consideration for government and Parliament in this area should be ensuring that solutions are accessible and affordable to all sections of society.
Energy in the home
In terms of energy in the home, Assembly members highlighted the importance of minimising disruption around retrofits and ensuring that homeowners have choice and flexibility. Interestingly, hydrogen, heat pumps and heat networks were all seen as part of the solution in terms of the UK achieving net zero. Over two-thirds of members (68%) strongly agreed that different parts of the country should be offered different solutions to zero carbon heating, reflecting the need for a local, tailored approach.
When it comes to electricity sources, the assembly saw offshore and onshore wind and solar power as key forms of electricity generation in the UK. There was less support for bioenergy, nuclear power, and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage.
Principles for the path to net zero
Assembly members agreed on 25 underpinning principles for the path to net zero and voted on how these principles should be prioritised. A number of these principles seem particularly relevant to the energy sector, with the top ten principles including:
Ensuring solutions are future-proofed and sustainable for the future
A joined-up approach across the system and all levels of society (working together, collaborating, sharing)
Long-term planning and a phased transition
Support for sustainable growth (including pioneering innovation)
Local community engagement embedded in national solutions.
The full report can be found here. As it runs to more than 550 pages, the Executive Summary is a great place to start!