Autumn Statement: mixed bag on net zero

Positive initiatives to support business investment offset by lack of measures on energy efficiency.

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By George Smeeton

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Commenting on the net zero measures in the Autumn Statement, Peter Chalkley, Director at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said: “Following the PM’s speech slowing progress on net zero, we’ve now got the Chancellor entering the global race to incentivise clean industries to set up here, rather than elsewhere. Some of these measures are a positive step for jobs and there will be warm words, but with business leaders, most politicians and the public alike seeing clean as the next big thing, and with the US, EU and China already powering ahead, does this risk looking too little, too late? The Government will likely need to do more in the coming months to calm investor nerves. Things over the past few months have looked, to say the least, a little confused. [1]

“The Chancellor had nothing to say on energy efficiency. Many had been calling for a stamp duty rebate for those who invest in upgrading their homes. Coupled with the PM’s recent row back on requirements for landlords to provide warm, insulated homes, this leaves many families colder and poorer. [2] This will seem particularly painful as Ofgem is set to announce another increase in energy bills tomorrow.”

Commenting on the energy measures in the Autumn Statement, Jess Ralston, Head of Energy at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said: "On the face of it, announcements on the energy grid will help modernise our current system and are likely to be a boost for industry. Developers say long wait times are putting them off investing in the UK. A spatial plan and other measures to quicken connections for British renewables will certainly help boost our energy independence.

"Hidden away in the detail, there appears to be a change to the windfall tax on renewable electricity generators, exempting new projects. This will likely be another boost for the industry that has repeatedly called for investment certainty in a market where supply chain inflation, ironically partly caused by the gas crisis, remains stubbornly high. But is it enough?

"There’s a huge gaping hole where an effective energy efficiency policy should be. Cold homes have cost the UK billions during the gas crisis and home insulation could have cut that bill dramatically while permanently reducing our reliance on foreign gas. Will the Government now step up on a solution everyone sees as a common sense?

"Taken as a whole, the Chancellor has now entered the global race for net zero industries, but currently we're walking while the US and EU are at full sprint."


Notes to editors:

  1. Recent polling ECIU found that nearly three quarters (72%) of MPs, including 62% of Conservative MPs, believe avoiding policy U-turns is important to maintain investor confidence in the UK. Separate polling found half of business leaders (50%) believe the Prime Minister’s recent ‘U-turns’ on net zero will negatively affect business confidence in making investments in the UK:
  2. ECIU analysis found that policy changes announced by the Prime Minister in his net zero rollbacks could cost British households almost £8bn in higher bills over the next decade, due to cancelling new energy efficiency regulations for the private rental sector:

For more information or for interview requests:

George Smeeton, Head of Communications, ECIU, Tel: 07894 571 153, email: