Explainer: The UK’s Net Zero Strategy Adjustment

Last week’s policy recalibrations announced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have ignited a flurry of discussions in the sustainability sector.

While these changes predominantly target the domestic sphere, they carry significant implications for businesses, especially those committed to a greener future.

Here’s our explainer into what these changes mean and how businesses can adapt and thrive in this evolving landscape.

Electric Vehicles: A Delay but Not a Detour

The UK’s goal to end the sale of new cars powered solely by petrol or diesel by 2030 has been postponed to 2035. This extension might seem like a reprieve, but it’s essential to view it in the broader context.

The extension for phasing out petrol and diesel vehicles is not an invitation to become complacent. The message is clear: fossil fuel-powered cars are not the long-term answer. Whether it’s EVs, FCVs, or another emergent technology, the trajectory remains towards cleaner, more sustainable transport solutions.

The delay primarily allows for infrastructural enhancements, such as expanding the electric vehicle charging network. For businesses, this still means adapting fleet strategies, investing in new technologies, and preparing for a future where green credentials will significantly influence consumer choices.

Energy Efficiency and Business Compliance

Businesses should note that energy efficiency requirements, especially ESOS-compliance, remain intact. Companies eligible for the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) have a shrinking timeframe to ensure compliance. The ESOS Phase 3 deadline is now 5th June 2024. This is known as the reporting deadline which means that, if you comply, you should already be compiling reports ready for submission. Read our blog on Preparing Your Business for ESOS Phase 3.

The UK’s Emissions Trading System (UK ETS) plays a vital role in the country’s decarbonisation strategy. It caps the total amount of greenhouse gases that covered sectors can emit. This system strengthens the economic incentive for businesses to cut down on their emissions.

There’s also the potential for carbon prices to increase. As a result, businesses that take proactive steps to reduce their carbon footprint may find themselves in a position to realize substantial cost savings in the future.

Legally-Binding Net Zero Target

Despite recent policy shifts, the UK maintains its commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) actively expresses concerns about the UK’s current trajectory. It highlights that we’re not making progress in line with interim targets. This situation could increase pressure on the private sector, as it needs to escalate emissions reduction to achieve net zero.

Businesses will play a crucial role in achieving net zero. Those that align their strategies with a low-carbon future can reap the benefits of enhanced brand reputation, increased investor confidence, and improved operational efficiencies.

For a deeper dive into the evolving landscape of net zero and sustainability, subscribe to our Newsletter on LinkedIn, Sustainability Unlocked.

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