Tag Archives: UK Government

End of coal in sight as UK secures ambitious commitments at COP26 summit

Given this week is COP26 and we are all keen to know more about “Green Energy” we have been looking at what the plans for the future are.

The UK has secured a 190-strong coalition of countries and organisations at COP26, with countries such as Poland, Vietnam, Egypt, Chile and Morocco announcing commitments to phase out coal power.

The end of coal – the single biggest contributor to climate change – is in sight thanks to the UK securing a 190-strong coalition of countries and organisations at COP26, with countries such as Indonesia, South Korea, Poland, Vietnam, and Chile announcing clear commitments to phase out coal power.

Today’s commitments, brought together through UK-led efforts including the new ‘Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement’, encompass developed and developing countries, major coal users and climate vulnerable countries. This includes 23 countries committing for the first time to phase out and not build or invest in new coal power, including Indonesia, South Korea, Poland, Vietnam, and Chile, marking a milestone moment at COP26 in the global clean energy transition.

This statement, launched today, commits nations across the world to:

  • end all investment in new coal power generation domestically and internationally
  • rapidly scale up deployment of clean power generation
  • phase out coal power in economies in the 2030s for major economies and 2040s for the rest of the world
  • make a just transition away from coal power in a way that benefits workers and communities

This is on top of China, Japan and Korea, the 3 largest public financiers of coal, committing to end overseas finance for coal generation by the end of 2021, announced in the last year during the UK’s incoming COP26 Presidency. Agreements at the G7, G20 and OECD to end public international coal finance send a strong signal that the world economy is shifting to renewables. This could end over 40GW of coal across 20 countries, equivalent to over half of the UK’s electricity generating capacity.

Business & Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:

Today marks a milestone moment in our global efforts to tackle climate change as nations from all corners of the world unite in Glasgow to declare that coal has no part to play in our future power generation.

Spearheaded by the UK’s COP26 Presidency, today’s ambitious commitments made by our international partners demonstrate that the end of coal is in sight. The world is moving in the right direction, standing ready to seal coal’s fate and embrace the environmental and economic benefits of building a future that is powered by clean energy.

To meet the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees, the global transition to clean power needs to progress 4 to 6 times faster than at present. With coal being the single largest contributor to climate change, phasing it out and delivering a rapid, inclusive transition to clean energy is essential if we are to keep 1.5 degrees alive.

Twenty-eight new members have today signed up to the world’s largest alliance on phasing out coal, the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) launched and co-chaired by the UK. Chile, Singapore and Durban have today joined over 150 countries, sub-nationals and businesses, including finance partners NatWest, Lloyds Banking, HSBC and Export Development Canada. This accounts for over $17 trillion assets now committed to PPCA coal phase out goals.

There has also been a 76% cut in the number of new coal plants planned globally over the last 6 years which means the cancellation of 1000GW of new coal plants since the Paris Agreement, roughly equivalent to around 10 times the UK’s total peak generating capacity.

Today’s global agreement to move away from coal to clean power has been made possible thanks to a number of other UK-convened initiatives, including:

No new coal power

The end of new coal power construction is in sight. The launch of the No New Coal Power compact by 6 countries at the UN High Level Dialogue in September, followed by the commitments in the Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement. This means that by the end of this year, all new public finance for unabated coal power plants will have stopped, with investments increasingly focused instead on accelerating the transition to clean energy sources such as wind and solar power, now cheaper than coal generation in most countries. This accelerates the growing global momentum to end new coal power, demonstrated by the 76% collapse in the global pipeline of proposed coal power plants since the Paris Agreement in 2015.

Supporting emerging economies

In addition, major emerging economies have announced plans to accelerate a just transition from coal to clean power. This includes a South Africa Just Energy Transition Partnership worth $8.5 billion, as well as Indonesia and the Philippines agreeing a ground breaking new partnership with the Asian Development Bank to support the early retirement of existing coal plants. Further financing announcements are expected today at COP26.

Supporting coal-intensive economies

Countries with significant coal power generation and mining face large social and financial challenges in the transition from coal. The UK’s COP26 Energy Transition Council (ETC) mobilises and coordinates the assistance required to enable coal intensive economies to equitably transition from coal, bringing together 20 governments and over 15 international institutions to accelerate the transition from coal to clean power as part of a green economic recovery. For example, the Energy Transition Council’s Rapid Response Facility delivers fast-acting technical, regulatory and commercial assistance to countries and has already responded to 24 requests in a range of areas, including energy efficiency in the Philippines and grid management in Egypt.

Ensuring a just transition

Today the UK government has also launched a new International Just Transition Declaration, ensuring the move away from coal high carbon industries results in a sustainable, green and fair future, and one that creates high quality new jobs and champions local social dialogue in developing and emerging economies. Coordinated by the UK government, so far, 13 countries have signed as well as the UK and EU Commission, covering a broad spectrum of the world’s donor funding, now driving towards a just transition for communities around the world.

Clean Growth, Energy and Climate Change Minster Greg Hands said:

As the host of COP26 and through committing to phasing out coal by 2024 and the UK’s global leadership has sent a clear signal across the world that clean energy is the way forward.

By continuing to drive forward clean, green innovations at home and abroad, I look forward to stepping into this new chapter, united with the rest of the world in our efforts to consign coal to the history books, as we build back greener.

FCDO Minister for Africa, Vicky Ford said:

A just and inclusive transition to clean energy is a win-win for the UK and Africa. Phasing out coal is a central objective of the UK’s COP Presidency and will support a cleaner, greener future for British people while creating hundreds of thousands of green jobs across the developing world.

This new funding will transform the support on offer for African countries transitioning to renewable energy. The Africa Regional Climate and Nature Programme will support green electricity networks across Africa, benefitting more than 4 million people, and the Transforming Energy Access platform will see 25 million more people across the developing world access clean energy.

The UK is already delivering many of the most ambitious clean power commitments among the world’s largest economies, committing to phase out coal power completely by 2024, driving forward renewable power generation with a decarbonised power system by 2035, and demonstrating that tackling climate change does not need to be at the expense of a growing economy.

Between 1990 and 2019, the UK’s economy grew by 78% while carbon emissions fell by 44%, the fastest reduction in the G7 – coal power makes up less than 2% of power generation compared to 40% almost a decade ago. These achievements follow the publication of the UK’s landmark Net Zero Strategy last month, which outlines measures to support businesses and consumers to transition to clean energy, while supporting hundreds of thousands of well-paid jobs and leveraging up to £90 billion of private investment by 2030. 

Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy, said:

Energy Day at COP 26 is an important milestone for building momentum on Sustainable Development Goal 7 and the just, equitable clean energy transitions it can support.

We are the architects of a sustainable future for all. Today I call on all governments to raise the level of ambition necessary to fill the financing gaps and to ensure an energy future that truly leaves no one behind.

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change in Canada and co-chair of the Powering Past Coal Alliance, said:

It is imperative that we phase out coal-fired electricity as a critical step to keep global temperatures from rising above 1.5ºC and prevent the most severe impacts of climate change. In four years, the Powering Past Coal Alliance has united a diverse and growing number of highly ambitious members, all committed to a clean energy transition that will make coal a relic of the past.

Whether sharing solutions or providing financial support to developing countries to help them succeed, Alliance members are driving change through this global collaboration.

Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack, said:

As one of the first countries to commit to ending coal power, the UK is leading the world in moving away from fossil fuels and it’s fantastic to see so many other countries making that commitment at COP26 in Glasgow.

Scotland has a massive part to play in the transition to clean, green energy. On offshore wind, for which Scotland has huge potential, our commitment is to quadruple capacity. Today’s news signals tremendous progress – we must continue to move forward.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, said:

Before 2030 we need Just Transition plans in place in every country with decent and quality jobs at the heart. Workers and their unions are needed at the table through a genuine social dialogue process that ensures that transformative action moves our economies and societies to stabilise our climate and keep global warming under 1.5°C.

The union movement is keen to work with all the governments and institutions that sign this declaration to make this happen.

Michael R. Bloomberg, UN Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions and founder of Bloomberg L.P. and Bloomberg Philanthropies, said:

Success in the fight against climate change depends on ending coal-fired power – the largest driver of carbon emissions and the target of a major new initiative that Bloomberg Philanthropies expanded this week at COP26. Together with our international partners, we welcome the work of more allies dedicated to moving beyond coal and accelerating the clean energy transition we urgently need.

Minister Schulze, German Minister of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, said:

Phasing out coal is essential to reach our climate targets. In the near future, we will have left behind all fossil fuels and live in a new and sustainable energy world based on renewable energies. In order to get there, we need to actively shape the potential social impacts and support the affected regions in creating good sustainable new jobs. This means ensuring a just and inclusive transition together with all relevant stakeholders. Germany is willing to share its experiences with changing economic patterns and is thus supporting the Coal to Clean Statement and the Just Transition Declaration. Germany is underlining its commitment to further support the pathway towards a safe, sustainable and climate friendly energy future globally.

The French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs said:

Striving to achieve universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all and in line with the objectives of the Paris agreement is a priority for France. In 2020, the French Development Agency Group committed 1.5 billion euros in the energy sectors to support developing countries for energy transition planning, access to electricity, energy efficiency and renewable energies. The partnership announced between South Africa, France, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union is a testament that France stands ready to support a just transition which is socially inclusive and creates local economic opportunities.

Next phase of government project to map the UK’s underground pipes and cables launched

The Government launched the next phase in the building of a digital map of underground pipes and cables today, as the country moves a step closer to revolutionising construction and development in the UK.

The National Underground Asset Register (NUAR), is now entering the Build Phase of the project. Cabinet Office Minister, Lord True CBE, and Mayor of Tees Valley, Ben Houchen, visited industry representatives and asset owners in Darlington for the launch to discuss the current challenges that NUAR will help address.

Over four million holes are dug in the UK each year, many in the wrong place. The economic cost of accidental utility damage is around £2.4 billion each year. Unforeseen ground conditions are a major obstacle to all construction and housing projects, especially on previously developed land. The new digital map of underground pipes and cables will help improve efficiencies in construction and development, reduce disruption and improve workers’ safety.

NUAR forms part of the Government’s efforts to build back better and greener, with tangible benefits, and speed up the delivery of housing and infrastructure projects from design to build. Fast access to this data will save utilities companies and local authorities time and money, and reduce the disruption caused in trying to fix leaks and put in new infrastructure.

Lord True CBE, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, said:

I am delighted to launch the build phase of the UK’s new National Underground Asset Register. This new digital map of the UK’s underground utilities assets demonstrates our commitment to putting innovation at the forefront of the UK’s economic recovery and ambition to Build Back Better.

The digital map will be built in partnership between industry and government over the next three years, starting in the North East of England, Wales and London. The platform will enable critical and local services, such as gas, water, electricity and telecommunications, to be efficiently maintained and delivered to homes and businesses via the web of cables, pipes and ducts currently beneath our streets.

As the UK government continues to work with local partners in the North East of England on a number of projects, it further demonstrates the integral role the region is playing in utilising the expertise available in all corners of the UK and building on the nation’s levelling up agenda.

Nigel Clifford, Deputy Chair of the Geospatial Commission, said:

Unlocking value from geospatial data is the heart of the UK’s Geospatial Strategy. Our National Underground Asset Register will be a momentous step towards providing the UK with a shared national data asset of significant value. I am proud of the collaboration with industry that we have so far established as part of our preparatory work and look forward to it continuing.

Ben Houchen, Mayor of Tees Valley, said:

I am absolutely delighted that this innovative new map of what lies beneath our feet is being launched and rolled out in Teesside. This new service will mean less mistakes are made when digging holes and less disruption to local people. Across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool we’re making huge strides; we are transforming northern Europe’s biggest brownfield at Teesworks creating thousands of jobs and transforming our economy to a greener future, and this new map will be incredibly helpful.

If you have any questions about the project, and in particular if you are an owner or operator of buried assets, please get in touch via [email protected]

Next generation of heat networks to power UK’s green revolution

Homes and businesses will be made greener as low-carbon energy is today placed at the heart of the latest round of funding for heat network projects across England.

The new £270 million Green Heat Network Fund, announced by the government today (Tuesday, 7 September), will only support low-carbon technologies like heat pumps, solar and geothermal energy in the roll out of the next generation of heat networks which will enable more towns and cities to take up this tried and tested technology from 2022.

Heat networks supply heat to buildings from a central source, avoiding the need for households and workplaces to have individual, energy-intensive heating solutions – such as gas boilers. At present, there are over 14,000 heat networks in the UK, providing heating and hot water to around 480,000 consumers.

Heat networks have the potential to be a cost-effective way of reducing carbon emissions from heating. They are the only way that larger-scale renewable and recovered heat sources – like the heat from large rivers and urban recovered heat, such as from the London Underground – can be utilised.

The previous Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP) has provided more than £165 million of funding for schemes across England and Wales since 2018.

The new Green Heat Network Fund (GHNF) successor scheme will go even further, with applications only being supported if they include low-carbon heat-generating technologies, such as heat pumps, waste heat and energy from geothermal sources.

The successor scheme is set to play a significant role in kick-starting market demand for heat pumps, which will drive down costs for consumers and delivering a mix of low-carbon heating solutions as we incentivise people to gradually transition away from fossil fuel boilers over the next 15 years.

With heat in buildings being one of the largest sources of UK carbon emissions, accounting for 21% of the total, there is an urgent need to deliver a mix of new, low-carbon heating solutions to meet our legally-binding target to end the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050.

Energy Minister Lord Callanan said:

Finding a mix of innovative solutions to how we heat our homes in the most affordable way is going to be vital as we support people to gradually transition away from gas boilers over the next 15 years.

Today’s announcement shows we are going even further in our goals to expand this tried and tested heat networks technology, making even more use of the likes of recovered heat from the London Underground to heat our homes.

The Green Heat Network Fund will also allow us to drive forward the new, cost-effective and low-carbon technologies we need to kick-start new industries and support new jobs in the low-carbon technology sector as we build back greener from the pandemic.

Although heat networks currently meet approximately 2% of the overall UK demand for heating, the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has estimated that, with continued support, they could provide 18% by 2050 – which is why the government is driving investment through the Green Heat Network Fund.

The Heat Networks Investment Project had focused on accelerating the growth of the heat network market and has permitted fossil fuel sources of heat provided they offer carbon reductions and will be replaced by low-carbon alternatives over time.

However, the successor scheme will incentivise new and existing heat networks in England to move away from high-carbon sources, as well as exploiting waste-heat opportunities while bringing down costs for consumers.

The Green Heat Network Fund is expected to fund the delivery of an estimated 10.3Mt of total carbon savings by 2050 or the equivalent of taking 4.5 million cars in England off the road for a year.

Also being published today is an assessment of the potential for future heat networks to be sited across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The study identifies opportunity areas that could be best-placed to support future heat network projects and how much heat could be supplied by them.

It identifies areas for district heating in each of the four nations separately across the UK by combining heat demand data and potential sources of waste heat to determine where heat networks could be commercially viable.

Thousands of new solar panels are to be installed in UK prisons

Thousands more solar panels are being fitted to prisons across England to help cut carbon emissions and save taxpayers’ money, Prisons Minister Alex Chalk has announced.

The installations are expected to cut more than 1,300 tonnes of carbon from the earth’s atmosphere and provide 20% of each prison’s electricity – a significant saving as the gworks towards its ambitious net-zero target and a move that will save around £800,000 a year.

In total over 16,000 new ground mounted panels will be switched on across the prison estate, with HMPs Bullingdon, Erlestoke and Wayland lighting the way in the next few months and work ongoing to power the remaining 16 from Spring next year.

Prisons and Probation Minister, Alex Chalk, said:

As we build back safer and greener from the pandemic, our prisons are playing their part in the Government’s ambitious environmental plans.

Alongside our wider sustainable action across the estate, including new all-electric prisons, we will ensure our jails are good for the pocket and the planet.

This unprecedented expansion of solar energy follows the announcement in May that the government’s four new prisons – a vital building block in the drive to create 10,000 new modern prisons places that cut crime – will operate as zero-carbon in the future. 

The prisons will use an all-electric design that eliminates the need for gas boilers and will in time produce net-zero emissions.

Solar panels, alongside heat pumps and more efficient lighting systems will reduce energy demand by half and cut carbon emissions by at least 85% compared to prisons already under construction.

The environmentally friendly drive accompanies wider government action to build back greener with more than £12 billion in green investment to help achieve its net zero commitment.

This will include hydrogen and carbon capture technology, greener homes, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, walking and cycling infrastructure, flood defences and backing offshore wind to power every UK home by 2030.

Notes to editors

  • Ground mounted solar panels have recently been installed at HMPs Bullingdon, Erlestoke, and Wayland.
  • Panels are now being installed at HMPs Eastwood Park, Ford, Guys Marsh, Haverigg, Isle of Wight, Leyhill, Lindholme and Moorland, Littlehey, New Hall, and Onley, Stocken, Werrington, Whatton and Whitemoor.
  • Work is ongoing to facilitate panels at HMPs Bure and Full Sutton.
  • The project will cost around £12 million, to be recouped through annual savings. Combined, the prisons will generate more than 7000kW of capacity per year.
  • The first of the four new prisons will be built next to HMP Full Sutton in East Yorkshire and work is underway to investigate locations for a further prison in the North-West of England and two in the South-East.
  • The MOJ is seeking to achieve the gold-standard ‘outstanding’ rating in Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) for its four new prisons. BREEAM is an independent scheme which assesses the sustainability of infrastructure projects.
  • The UK is a global leader on tackling climate change which is why we’ve committed to reach net zero by 2050.

Halogen lightbulb sales to be banned in UK under new government plans

The government has announced plans to end the sale of halogen light bulbs from this September, as part of the UK’s wider efforts to tackle climate change.

Legislation being brought forward this month will also include the removal of fluorescent lights from shelves from September 2023.

Currently, around 2 thirds of bulbs sold in Britain are LED lights, making a considerable impact in improving the energy efficiency of the country’s buildings. They last 5 times longer than traditional halogen lightbulbs and produce the same amount of light – but use up to 80% less power.

The UK began phasing out the sale of higher-energy halogen lightbulbs in 2018. The new legislation would mean retailers will no longer be able to sell the majority of halogen bulbs for general household use in the UK from 1 September.

To help people make the switch, ministers are also announcing that all light bulbs will start to feature new energy efficiency advice via ‘rescaled’ energy labels on their boxes. The labels will simplify the way energy efficiency is displayed on a new scale from A-G, doing away with the A+, A++ or A+++ ratings. The new labels will raise the bar for each class, meaning very few bulbs will now be classified as A, helping consumers choose the most environmentally friendly bulbs.

This measure is expected to mean that LED light bulbs will account for 85% of all bulbs sold by 2030.

In addition, the government also plans to start phasing out the sale of high-energy fluorescent lightbulbs, with a view to bringing an end to their sale from September 2023.

Taken together, these new rules will mark a significant shift to more energy efficient and longer lasting LEDs and will stop 1.26 million tonnes of carbon being emitted every year – the equivalent of removing over half a million cars from the UK’s roads.

The move is part of a package of energy efficiency improvements to electrical appliances, which will save consumers an average of £75 a year on energy bills.

Energy Minister, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said:

We’re phasing out old inefficient halogen bulbs for good, so we can move more quickly to longer lasting LED bulbs, meaning less waste and a brighter and cleaner future for the UK.

By helping ensure electrical appliances use less energy but perform just as well, we’re saving households money on their bills and helping tackle climate change.

Today’s plans also include a ban from September on the sale of lighting fixtures with fixed bulbs that can’t be replaced – meaning the fixtures have to be thrown away. Fixtures such as these account for 100,000 tonnes of electrical waste every year – out of a total 1.5 million tonnes of electrical waste each year.

Minister for Climate Change, Lord Martin Callanan, said:

Flicking the off-switch on energy inefficient light bulbs is a simple way that households can save money at the same time as saving the planet.

Phasing out halogen bulbs in favour of LED alternatives that last longer, are just as bright and cheaper to run, is another way that we are helping tackle climate change.

Chief Executive of Signify UK, which owns Philips lighting, Stephen Rouatt, said:

We welcome the UK government’s next step in the transition towards more sustainable lighting products. Using energy-efficient LED equivalents for halogen and fluorescent lighting on an even broader scale will significantly help the UK on its journey to decarbonisation, as well as lowering the annual electricity bills for consumers.

Overall, the government’s package of energy efficiency improvements will also cut 8 million tonnes of carbon emissions in 2021 by reducing the amount of energy products consume over their life-time – the equivalent of removing all emissions from Birmingham and Leeds each year.