With the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow just around the corner 2021 will be a key year for the UK’s clean energy transition. After a flurry of announcements in late 2020, including the Energy White Paper, we are now involved in several industry and government consultations on how to accelerate a high renewables, net zero energy system. We are delighted to take part in these conversations and will share our responses in due course.
Public awareness of the climate crisis continues to grow and more people than ever support definitive action. The UK Government’s most recent Public Attitude Tracker has found that 81% of the British public are concerned about climate change. Awareness of net zero is also rising rapidly with 76% of the public aware of the goal, up 24% from March 2020. Support for renewable energy remains steady with 78% in support and only 3% opposed.
But it’s not just the public who are eager for change, leaders from across the world are calling for countries to step up global climate action and "build back better" from the pandemic. A recent UN report stressed that a global recovery from the coronavirus crisis presents an unmissable opportunity to deliver net zero emissions by 2050. In addition, following a recent meeting, G7 leaders released a statement stressing that global efforts to decarbonise economies and boost climate resilience should be at the heart of economic recovery efforts:
“Looking to UNFCCC COP26 and CBD COP15, we will put our global ambitions on climate change and the reversal of biodiversity loss at the centre of our plans. We will make progress on mitigation, adaptation and finance in accordance with the Paris Agreement and deliver a green transformation and clean energy transitions that cut emissions and create good jobs on a path to net zero no later than 2050.”
Due to a combination of good wind and sun resource and decreased demand during lockdown last year, the UK grid proved that it can run successfully with 50% or more of its electricity generated by renewables. 2020 was the first year that renewables generated more electricity than fossil fuels and the trend is set to continue into 2021. Recent records from the National Grid reported high wind performance in January, with zero carbon sources generating 41% of the UK electricity needs.
These are positive steps forward and prove what can be achieved. However, we cannot let this momentum disperse. We must continue to push for definitive action to succeed in building a net zero electricity system and a net zero UK.
“It’s great to see the continuing progress of the UK’s energy sector, setting us solidly on the road to net zero. We look forward to getting our new wind, solar, battery and geothermal investments operational and will be working closely with the sector to facilitate the continued transition to clean energy.” Matthew Clayton, Managing Director, Thrive Renewables