Lack of long term certainty for net zero following the Chancellor's Spring Budget

Yesterday, 6 March, saw a lack of long-term certainty for net zero, with little investment incentives to drive forward the UK government’s net zero ambitions. The US Inflation Reduction Act, EU Green Deal and China’s Made in 2025 Strategy mean the UK continues to be outcompeted on clean tech investment.

You can read techUK's full response to the Spring Budget here.

What did we see?

  • Confirmation of a £120m increase in funding for the ‘green industries growth accelerator’ (GIGA) to support clean energy supply chains. This includes carbon, capture, usage and storage, engineered greenhouse gas removals, offshore wind and electricity networks. This also brings the fund to £1.1bn up from £960m announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.
  • Confirmed key details of its sixth auction round for new renewable energy projects
  • Freeze on fuel duty on petrol and diesel, meaning less incentive to use more fuel-efficient models. Carbon Brief calculated that fuel duty freezes increased UK CO2 emissions by up to 7%.
  • Great British Nuclear (GBN) buying two nuclear sites from Hitachi for £160m, aiming to deliver nuclear expansion plans. A further announcement was that six companies in the GBN’s Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Technology Selection Process can now access tender documentation.
  • Extension to the windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas companies, bringing the schedule end date to March 2029.
  • Budget for the next wave of offshore wind projects through the Contracts for Difference (CfD) renewables auction.

Specifically on planning reform and grid connections...

  • The Government has published a new consultation on an accelerated planning service for major commercial applications. It also published its response to the consultation on operational reforms to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project regime.
  • The Budget also restated a commitment to working with industry and Ofgem to implement electricity grid reforms announced at Autumn Statement 2023, and bring forward a plan to further cut connection times which delivers for all viable projects.

Specifically on transport...

  • The Government confirmed it will continue to progress the delivery of the ‘Network North’ plan, redirecting savings from the cancellation of HS2 Phase 2 into alternative transport projects.
  • It announced £4.7 billion in long-term funding settlements for places outside city regions in the North and Midlands. This is in addition to the £8.3 billion the government has announced it will be investing in local roads over the next 11 years to fill potholes and resurface roads, repair bridges, and deliver local road upgrades across England.
  • It also gave the green light given to the next section of East West Rail and upgrading the timetable on the East Coast mainline from December 2024.

What didn’t we see?

  • The Chancellor did not offer new policies to boost the rollout of low-carbon technologies, such electric vehicles (EVs) and heat pumps.
  • Lack of long-term vision for Green Finance Strategy, with no science-based UK taxonomy and extension to transition plan requirements needed to unlock billions in private investment for innovative, high productivity green sectors across the UK.
  • No progress on electrification, but we did see increase in funds for hydrogen and CCS.

techUK continues to call for...

  • Leveraging the role of data and digitalisation for the National Grid to enable the net zero transition. 
  • Planning reform to deliver critical national infrastructure. I.e., look at the role of data and digitalisation for greater efficiency in planning teams.
  • A longer-term R&D tax credit strategy to anchor investment in the UK and drive forward ambitions to be a Science and Tech Superpower.
  • Prioritise the rollout of EV charge points to incentivise the shift towards Zero Emission Vehicles by 2035.
  • Align the UK CBAM with EU CBAM timelines to ensure a level playing field with EU competitors. 

 


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By 2030, digital technology can cut global emissions by 15%. Cloud computing, 5G, AI and IoT have the potential to support dramatic reductions in carbon emissions in sectors such as transport, agriculture, and manufacturing. techUK is working to foster the right policy framework and leadership so we can all play our part. For more information on how techUK can support you, please visit our Climate Action Hub and click ‘contact us’.

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Weronika Dorociak

Weronika Dorociak

Programme Manager, Sustainability , techUK

Craig Melson

Craig Melson

Associate Director for Climate, Environment and Sustainability, techUK

Mia Haffety

Mia Haffety

Programme Manager - Telecoms and Net Zero, techUK

Lucas Banach

Lucas Banach

Programme Assistant, Data Centres, Climate, Environment and Sustainability, Market Access, techUK

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