How communities could have a stronger voice in the journey to zero carbon
In 2019, the UK made a legally binding commitment to a zero-carbon future, legislating a deadline for its contribution to global warming – 2050. In some parts of the country, the net-zero targets are even more ambitious like Scotland wich has gone still further and set a Net Zero target of 2045.
Exactly how to achieve these targets, and the roadmap to get there, is not yet clear. As energy devolution becomes more and more common, the risk to communities is they are left behind in transition. The renewable company ScottishPower is launching a commitment to work with these communities to help identify what steps they need to take, specific to them, to meet the goals.
Zero Carbon Communities (ZCC) is the first initiative of its kind to explore and solve these challenges. ZCC sets out a roadmap in each of the regions that they operate in, helping to achieve a better future, quicker. The retail business is developing new products and services to support the clean transport and heating needs of the energy customers. And they’re investing in their energy networks to deliver a greener future.
The challenge is enormous and requires far-reaching change not only for government, regulators and industry, but for the public too. As the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has identified, investing in renewable generation alone is not going to be enough. We need to reduce emissions significantly in many other areas of our daily lives like transports or heating. The Committee on Climate Change recommends that all new cars and vans should be electric by 2035 and advocates the earlier switchover of 2030 if possible. And for heating, getting to Net Zero will mean the end of gas heating as we know it, and the mass conversion of existing homes to electric-powered heat pump technology.
But… What does it mean all of this? It raises a lot of questions like: how many homes in each local authority will need to switch from gas heating to electricity or heat pumps? Or what type of chargers are required to ensure access and adoption? Well, to make the journey to zero carbon, every community will need to answer these questions, and a lot of more. And they’ll need to focus on the solutions that best meet their future requirements. The same solutions do not exist for all the communities.
An important element of Zero Carbon Communities is the engagement with local government bodies to help identify their unique needs for their cleaner futures. It will be step by step. First of all, by helping to identify what they need in terms of infrastructure for electric vehicles and heating, and ensuring the grid is resilient and robust. But there is a long list. Other steps include raising public awareness of the environmental and financial benefits of electrification, and how it can help with smart city growth and development.
They’re ready to help mobilise industry, local government and local communities to help their get there – but they also need the right action from national government, and from the energy British regulator Ofgem, to support the practical actions necessary to achieve Net Zero.
They think it boils down to three key areas:
- Devolve more power so that communities have a proper say in setting carbon priorities in their areas: the Net Zero transition cannot simply be forced upon people, or imposed from above. To succeed, it needs to be done with their engagement and support, in ways that reflect the priorities and needs of local communities.
- Don’t wait. Allow future investment to meet the needs of communities in making the transition to Net Zero: There is no time to waste. We need to start making the necessary plans and investments now.
- Ensure that all regulation has the ambitions of meeting decarbonisation targets at its core.
Ultimately the Zero Carbon Communities campaign has been launched by ScottishPower, part of the Iberdrola Group, to ensure that the communities in which they operate are not left behind in the race to Net Zero carbon by 2050.