A carbon target for the 2030s means action today

We at E.ON strongly support the target to reduce emissions by 2030, but there is not much time left to reach this ambitious goal. We have helped lead the UK in the journey from fossil fuels to renewables, and are in a position to help with this net zero goal as well.  We support the Climate Change Committee’s recommendations to Government, which lays out a roadmap of how this 2030 target can be achieved. The action needs to start now.

 

Before I start, I must declare an interest: at E.ON we are already changing the way people heat and power their homes across the country. We are recruiting and training an army of technicians and installers who will work on homes and businesses – and who already are, from the Highlands of Scotland1 to the City of London – to change the way our customers use energy.

The Climate Change Committee’s recommendations to Government not only set a course for the middle of the next decade but also establish an ambitious emissions reduction target for 2030, as required by the Paris Agreement. We strongly support the target to reduce emissions by at least 68% by 2030 – but that is only nine years away. What we need now is a road map to get us there. 

We urge the Prime Minister to double down on his recent ten point plan which sets a direction of travel for a green industrial revolution. This will help E.ON, our supply chain partners and the entire green energy sector to unlock tens of billions of pounds of investment right now and throughout this decade. That means delivering new and enduring skilled jobs in every area of the country, upgrading and future-proofing homes and work places with products manufactured in the UK, reducing emissions, cutting energy bills, improving air quality and making everyone’s lives better, not to mention relieving unnecessary pressure on the health service.

Some might say this isn’t possible, but we have been here before and we know what works. E.ON helped the UK lead the world in moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy. From a business built on coal-fired power stations we became experts in building wind farms, installing the UK’s first offshore wind turbines off the Northumberland coast and gaining the first planning permission in the world for a commercial offshore wind farm in the 1990s off Great Yarmouth. From there we invested billions of pounds into developing much of the renewable energy fleet powering the UK today, as well as exporting our knowledge and expertise overseas.

Today the UK’s electricity system is well on the way to becoming zero carbon. Our next objective is far more difficult; delivering net zero emissions directly to millions of homes and businesses across the country.

There are around 29 million homes in the UK, and 19 million are rated D or worse for their energy use. Research by tadoo 2 earlier this year highlighted how poor the UK’s homes are compared to our neighbours across Europe. It’s still entirely possible to build a new home in Britain today that uses oil for heating, and a significant minority of homes still rely on coal or have such poor insulation that energy bills can be more than twice as expensive as they need to be.

The Government, to be fair, knows this and are helping us to change this picture: the Green Homes Grant scheme means E.ON and others will be able to help households upgrade their homes through solar, insulation and heat pumps. We welcome the recent Spending Review confirming that schemes such as these will be extended until March 2022. What we need now is a lasting and cohesive policy framework that takes this good start and makes it an enduring feature of the UK’s economic recovery.

And that’s why the Climate Change Committee’s recommendations to Government need to be welcomed and supported by companies like E.ON. They provide a route map of how the UK can meet the Prime Minister’s target to cut emissions by 68% by 2030 from 1990 levels, a target we are pleased to see the Government agree to and demonstrates the UK international leadership on emissions reduction and adaptation. The electricity and transport sectors have started to show how this can be done: reward early action but couple that with a strong and enduring signal that high carbon technologies will be phased out by a particular date. We now need to apply this same thinking to our buildings. 

Taking decisive action today will bring about the change we want to see over the next decade and beyond and provide the clarity UK manufacturers need to be at the forefront of this green industrial revolution.

 

1. The Highland Council: Energy and Sustainability

2. tado: UK homes losing heat up to three times faster than European neighbours

Written by Michael Lewis

Michael joined E.ON UK as CEO in 2017, having worked in the energy industry for over 25 years. He joined Powergen in 1993, originally working in technical and environmental roles, before moving into corporate strategy and development. Following E.ON’s acquisition of Powergen in 2002, he moved to E.ON’s headquarters in Düsseldorf as Vice President Corporate Development. In 2007, Michael was appointed Managing Director for Europe on the Board of E.ON Climate and Renewables, before becoming Chief Operating Officer in 2012 and then CEO of E.ON Climate and Renewables in 2015. Michael is a Chartered Engineer (CEng) and a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (FIMechE).