The opportunities presented by a net zero growth agenda in the United Kingdom
Reported by Kevin Kim Larson, Postgraduate Student, Department of Architecture
In February 2023, the Rt Hon Chris Skidmore MP met with the Cambridge Zero Policy Forum at Hughes Hall to discuss the opportunities offered by the acceleration of net zero. Cross-disciplinary academics from across the University came together for a roundtable conversation covering net zero policy recommendations, opportunities for climate leadership, and how to move these priorities forward.
A pro-business net zero agenda
Published in early 2023, former Energy Minister Chris Skidmore’s Mission Zero Independent Review of Net Zero overviews how the transition to net zero should be a tool to not only accelerate environmental targets but represents how the government can partner with business in growing economic opportunities across all sectors. Additionally, his independent review highlights how the acceleration of net zero allows for the UK to exhibit international leadership.
Chris Skidmore and the Policy Forum discussed topics including the political feasibility of substantial progress towards net zero and the importance of communication strategies.
UK leadership as a driver of net zero internationally
A net zero growth agenda presents an opportunity for the UK to become a world leader in climate change mitigation and adaptation, providing a blueprint for other countries to follow in their own efforts to reduce emissions. It also provides an opportunity for economic growth, job creation, and foreign investment, while also protecting the natural environment. It is therefore imperative that the UK pushes forward to provide businesses with clear policy direction to promote continued investment and ensure targets are reached.
Economic benefits of a net zero growth agenda
Skidmore provided an overview of how net zero goals promote economic growth and provide stability for future investments in UK businesses. A net zero growth agenda could bring about economic opportunities across all sectors, from clean energy and transport to agriculture and land use. Green technologies such as electric vehicles and renewable energy sources could create jobs in manufacturing and engineering, while more sustainable farming practices could create jobs in agriculture and land management.
The shift to a low-carbon economy could result in the creation of new jobs in industries such as renewable energy production and carbon capture and storage. This could also lead to an increase in jobs in sectors such as construction and engineering as the demand for climate change mitigation technologies increases.
A net zero growth agenda could also lead to increased foreign investment in UK-based companies as investors seek out low-carbon opportunities that are both financially and environmentally sustainable. As Europe and the United States increase their carbon emissions reduction ambitions, it is important for the UK to exhibit continued leadership in this area.
While a net zero growth agenda could bring about many economic benefits, many areas still need additional consideration, such as land use, housing, and natural environmental protection. These areas will need to be addressed for a net zero growth agenda to be successful and beneficial for all stakeholders involved.
Narrative as a driving force for policy advancement
For a net zero growth agenda to be successful, it is important to demonstrate how it can be achieved without sacrificing economic growth or social well-being. Rather, net zero should be seen as a strategy for expanding quality of life and civic leadership. This can be done by creating a narrative around how a net zero transition can facilitate economic growth through increased investment, create jobs, lower costs, and protect the natural environment at the same time. Participants discussed the importance of finding issues that people care about to help communicate the transition to net zero. Things like the cost of energy and its direct impact on everyone were used to illustrate this point and how net zero policy enables improving people's daily lives.
A net zero growth agenda presents an opportunity for the UK to become a world leader in climate change mitigation and adaptation, providing a blueprint for other countries to follow in their own efforts to reduce emissions. It also provides an opportunity for economic growth, job creation, foreign investment, and environmental protection. This discussion around how best to achieve a net zero growth agenda provided an excellent opportunity for academics and experts in the field to discuss how best to implement policies and messaging around net zero to ensure its success and beneficial outcomes for all stakeholders involved.