UK lawmakers warn of ‘disorderly’ transition to net-zero goals

Priscila Azevedo Rocha July 21, 2022

(Bloomberg) — The British government needs to publish detailed plans on decarbonizing the economy if it wants to prevent a “disorderly” transition to net-zero emissions by 2050, members of Parliament’s upper chamber said Thursday.  

Specific details are needed by the government on what’s required to safeguard energy supply and to generate confidence that it will follow though with goals to eliminate carbon emissions by mid-century, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee said in a report. 

Energy security is at the forefront of countries around Europe as they rush to ensure supplies against the worsening threat of reduced Russian gas exports, which has seen benchmark prices for the fuel climb fourfold from a year ago. This winter, millions of household bills in the UK are set to almost triple from last year’s levels.

“The impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on energy prices has been a wake-up call on how vulnerable our energy security is,” said George Bridges, the committee’s chairman. “The Government has set ambitious targets for low-carbon power generation, but there is a gap between those ambitions and practical plans for delivery.” 

The committee urged the government to focus on oil and gas projects with “short lead times and payback periods” to replace supply from Russia and mitigate the risk of stranded assets. Enabling more investment in North Sea fossil-fuel production could help in the short run, but it won’t provide a significant reduction in energy prices. Over the medium-term, oil and gas use needs to fall to align with climate strategy.

The government should also speed up the pace of measures to increase energy efficiency across the UK, including home insulation, to alleviate public concern about higher energy bills. 

It also recommends that regulators align with government to support the transition to net zero, while guaranteeing that businesses are supported to make consistent financial disclosures. That’s because the transition may involve “complex interlinkages between renewables and fossil fuels,” the report said.

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