The impact of Reform UK's policies on the UK's progress towards Net Zero

By: Chloe Emanuel

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14/06/2024 TGS | 4C Offshore

Reform UK has proposed a significant shift in the UK's energy and environmental policies, with a focus on scrapping the current Net Zero target. Their rationale is centred on the belief that Net Zero policies are economically detrimental, driving up energy costs, harming businesses, and resulting in job losses. However, abandoning the Net Zero target could have several negative repercussions on the UK's progress in various areas.

Climate Change Mitigation

Net Zero aims to reduce man-made CO2 emissions to mitigate climate change, a critical global challenge. Reform UK's stance is that climate change is a natural phenomenon that cannot be stopped by reducing CO2 emissions.


However, scientific consensus strongly supports the need to cut emissions to limit global warming and its severe consequences. Abandoning Net Zero would undermine the UK's contributions to global climate efforts, potentially exacerbating climate impacts like extreme weather events, sea-level rise, and loss of biodiversity.

Economic and Employment Impacts


Reform UK argues that Net Zero policies increase energy bills and harm the economy. While the transition to renewable energy involves upfront costs, it also offers long-term economic benefits. Investing in renewables and energy efficiency can create jobs, stimulate innovation, and enhance energy security. Conversely, relying on fossil fuels, as Reform UK suggests, may provide short-term economic relief but risks future job losses in emerging green industries and increased vulnerability to volatile global energy markets.


Energy Security


Reform UK proposes fast-tracking North Sea gas and oil licenses and developing shale gas. While this may offer temporary energy security, it fails to address the long-term need for sustainable energy sources. Renewable energy sources like wind and solar, despite their intermittency, are crucial for reducing dependency on fossil fuels and enhancing energy resilience. Scrapping Net Zero could delay the development of a diversified and secure energy system, leaving the UK exposed to future energy crises.


Public Health and Environmental Quality


Net Zero policies not only aim to reduce carbon emissions but also improve air quality by cutting down on pollutants from fossil fuels. Reform UK's push to increase fossil fuel extraction could lead to higher levels of air pollution, adversely affecting public health. Cleaner air resulting from renewable energy adoption has significant health benefits, reducing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.


Technological Innovation and Global Leadership


Abandoning Net Zero could stifle technological innovation in clean energy and undermine the UK's position as a global leader in climate action. Investing in technologies like small modular reactors, lithium mining for batteries, and synthetic fuels, as Reform UK suggests, is important. However, these should complement, not replace, the commitment to Net Zero. Leading in climate-friendly technologies can position the UK at the forefront of a global transition, attracting investments and setting standards.


Long-term Economic Sustainability


While Reform UK highlights the immediate financial savings from scrapping Net Zero and related subsidies, this perspective overlooks the long-term economic sustainability offered by a low-carbon economy. The initial costs of transitioning to renewable energy are offset by reduced operational costs, improved energy efficiency, and the economic stability derived from sustainable practices. The proposed savings of £30 billion per year may seem substantial, but they pale in comparison to the potential economic losses from unchecked climate change and the missed opportunities in the burgeoning green economy.


Conclusion


Reform UK's policy to scrap Net Zero could have far-reaching negative impacts on the UK's environmental, economic, and social progress. While there are legitimate concerns about the costs and implementation of Net Zero policies, the benefits of maintaining and improving these policies outweigh the short-term gains from abandoning them. A balanced approach that addresses economic concerns while steadfastly pursuing Net Zero targets is essential for a sustainable and prosperous future.


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About the Author

4C Offshore | Chloe Emanuel
Chloe Emanuel

Press Coordinator

01502 307037 chloe.emanuel@tgs.com