Blog: Government Response to the Net Zero Review

By: Giorgio Buttironi

Policy and Research Manager

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) yesterday published its official response to the Net Zero Review, commissioned in September 2022 by Former Prime Minister Liz Truss MP and completed by Former Energy Minister Chris Skidmore MP in January 2023.

The Net Zero Review made a total of 129 recommendations to progress over the next decade in order to achieve net zero in the UK, criticising the Government for having failed to match ambitious rhetoric with action. Maritime UK responded to the consultation process within the Net Zero Review and Skidmore’s Report urged the UK to set out a timeline to expand the coverage of the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to the maritime sector by 2024, as well as taking a leading role in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) negotiations to decarbonise maritime at a global level.

The Government’s response to the Net Zero Review, Powering Up Britain, is accompanied by a Net Zero Growth Plan – summarising plans to achieve net zero – and an Energy Security Plan – outlining the roadmap to achieve greater energy self-sufficiency by the middle of the century.

Powering Up Britain: The Net Zero Growth Plan

The Government accepted the Net Zero Review’s recommendations to set out a long-term pathway for the UK ETS and commits to expanding the latter to more sectors of the economy, which will likely include maritime. To do that, the Government pledged to publish its formal response to its consultation on expanding the UK ETS’s scope – which closed for responses in June 2022 – to cover energy from domestic maritime emissions, with a view to legislating for the scheme to continue until at least 2050.

The Government outlined its track record of helping decarbonise maritime through the launch of the UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions in March 2022 with £206 million of funding and pointed to the upcoming Clean Maritime Plan Refresh, which will include indicative domestic maritime decarbonisation targets, deliver R&D investment through UK SHORE, and consider a phase out date for the same of new non-zero emission vessels.

Furthermore, the Government renewed its commitment to leading international action on decarbonising the maritime sector at the IMO by continuing to champion the development of Green Shipping Corridors, having announced new agreements with the USA, Norway and the Netherlands as part of the Green Shipping Challenge.

Powering Up Britain: The Energy Security Plan

The Government launched the Floating Offshore Wind Manufacturing Investment Scheme, which will provide up to £160 million of funding to kickstart investment in port infrastructure projects to deliver on floating offshore wind ambitions and pledged to remove barriers to help modernise the Crown Estate’s investment capacity in order to unlock investment and deliver growth in this sector.

The Government acknowledged the need to streamline the planning process for offshore wind developments and renewed its commitment to achieve this aim through legislation, with the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill enabling offshore wind projects meeting the necessary quality criteria to benefit from the new fast-track consenting process. This will be completemented by measures in the Energy Bill to adapt environmental assessments, enable strategic compensation, and review Habitats Regulation Assessments to speed up the development of offshore wind projects.

You can read the copy of the Government's response to the Net Zero Review here.

Maritime UK Analysis

Maritime UK notes that Powering Up Britain seems to consolidate a number of already known existing policy announcements into a new set of policy papers, placing them into the context of the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero’s mission of increasing the UK’s energy independence and accelerating net zero.

The Government cannot afford to be anything but ambitious when it comes to charting a course towards maritime decarbonisation and a net zero economy, particularly with the US Inflation Reduction Act and the EU Green Deal, if the UK has any chance of being a leader in this sector.

Whilst we recognise the effort to bring greater coherence to its approach on these vital issues, Maritime UK urges the Government to use the Clean Maritime Plan Refresh and the Autumn Statement later in the year to instil a policy framework and commit significant funding towards delivering strategic priorities such as the roll out of shore power charging in UK ports and actively facilitating investment in proven clean energy solutions to deliver net zero vessels at pace.

The Government should also seek to engage with the maritime sector and the renewable energy industry to begin work on delivering the recommendations outlined in Maritime UK’s Offshore Wind Plan, which provides a roadmap to maximise the value of offshore wind to the maritime supply chain, unlocking huge economic dividends for coastal communities across the UK.