Firms are being asked for their views of net zero policy, in a review announced by Prime Minister Liz Truss and now commissioned by BEIS secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg. The announcement (see below for the link) says the review will “ensure that we are delivering net zero in a way is pro-business and pro-growth”. BEIS wants to hear especially from SMEs.
The review, under Nick Skidmore MP, will consider how the UK’s approach to net zero can maximise economic growth and investment, support energy security and affordability for firms and consumers, and “minimise costs… particularly in the short-term”. It will assess the economic benefits of policy options and the cost of net zero technologies can be reduced.
There are 28 questions – although not all are for businesses – which start with: “How does net zero enable us to meet our economic growth target of 2.5% a year? What challenges and obstacles have you identified to decarbonisation?” The review asks what challenges firms face and what more government could do to support them, and about exports.
Jack Semple comments that net zero remains in place – and is often seen as a potential opportunity, just as much if not more than a cost – but the call for evidence marks a shift in tone. Environment campaigners have noted Rees-Mogg’s declaration that every drop of oil and cubic inch of gas should be got out from the North Sea, a sentiment unthinkable under the last government – which banned UK Export Finance from supporting firms to win oil and gas contracts abroad; and the changed position on fracking.
The emphasis on SMEs is something we can expect to hear a lot from the Truss government and in a separate announcement, this means companies up to 500 employees in a UK context rather than the usual 250 limit under EU law.
The review is certain to address energy issues, but there is also likely to be evidence from business about the nature of technology regulation and standards. And from what government does, the review may cover the pressures from large firms on their supply chains – although some of those large firms are themselves probably questioning the commitment of the government to net zero in the short term.
The review under-scores the Truss government’s strong focus on growth and cutting regulation, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in what chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, in his Growth Plan budget last month called “a new era”. As with all such reviews, it is said to be “independent”.
EAMA will be responding to the call for evidence and we welcome comments on the review. Please send any comments you have to Jack Semple (email: [email protected]) and copy them to Geoff Noon at MTA (email: [email protected]). If you wish to make a formal submission of your own to the review (see link below), it would be really helpful if we could both receive a copy.