Carbon, commitment, clarity

By Dr Richard Leese, Director – MPA Cement and Director, Industrial Policy, Energy and Climate, MPA

No matter what industry you operate in, the reality is that net zero doesn’t come with a set of instructions.  We all know the Government’s net zero carbon 2050 destination point, but how each sector gets there will be a different journey.  Common across all roadmaps is the need for industry commitment, innovation, investment, cross-industry partnership, behavioural change and Government support.  

The launch of the UK concrete and cement industry’s roadmap to beyond net zero reflects our sector’s ambition and above all our commitment to these requirements.  It’s also a continuation of the early action that so far has helped us decarbonise more than the UK economy as a whole since 1990.  

Our approach is not based on offsetting or offshoring production. Instead it uses seven technologies, and the emissions reduction potential of each of these has been carefully calculated.  

The reality is that delivering beyond net zero will require all of these technologies to be working together in concert. While technologies like carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) are achievable and viable there are unknowns that are currently outside our control.  What will a decarbonised transport system look like – is it based on EV or hydrogen or a blend of the two? What is the energy mix of a decarbonised electricity market?

Some of the answers to these will be shaped by Government policy. Government insists that deadlines for key decisions on climate and the environment will be met in the next few months in key policy areas such as infrastructure, transport, energy and the Treasury’s net zero funding review.  

It’s positive that climate change is now central to all departments’ thinking, but a significant question yet to be answered is after Brexit what UK carbon pricing system will businesses in our sector will be part of? 

From the 1st of January, UK companies will not be part of the revised EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) and we still do not know what carbon regulatory system UK sites will have to comply with. 

It’s now critical that our industry has clarity from Government on the UK carbon pricing scheme to ensure that the UK remains an attractive place to invest and to allow businesses to prepare for the start of the new year.

This is an essential point on the journey to net zero no matter what route the UK takes.

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Image: LEILAC demonstration project