Will Boris Johnson warm to the challenges around climate change and energy?

Energy Management’s Jac Stone says Boris Johnson must put climate change and energy at the top of his long ‘to-do list’.

Last week saw the arrival of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, a Brexiteer hellbent on delivering the public vote and leaving the European Union on 31 October, 2019.

While the focus is on the here and the now as people contemplate just how the new man in charge of the country proposes to keep his promise in such a short space of time, his policies over the next few years – presuming he stays at No.10 – will be critical for the Energy Industry.

What next?

Although the UK has recently committed in law to reduced greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050, the route to achieve this is completely new territory. In order to meet this ambitious target, work needs to start immediately otherwise we’ll run the risk of missing  out. Couple this with the UK’s outdated energy policy and it’s obvious we cannot afford any delays.

Top of the tree for tasks to complete at Downing Street will be deciding whether to accept the recommendations made by the arrival of the Energy White Paper. The paper, due to arrive imminently, will set out a new framework designed to tackle pressing issues such as developing carbon capture projects, investment in renewable energy and funding of nuclear power stations. All contributing to the aim of meeting net-zero targets.

Making energy and climate change a priority, despite Brexit, would offer greater clarity and support across the whole of Britain. Businesses have already been hit by soaring non-commodity cost rises due to funding for government subsidies and these are projected to continue as the UK experiences its energy transition.

Boris’ Background

To say Johnson’s previous approach to climate change was sub-standard would be an understatement. As an MP he consistently voted against climate change measures and in December 2015, following the signing of the Paris Agreement, Johnson wrote a column for The Daily Telegraph praising the work of notorious climate science denier and brother of the Labour leader, Piers Corbyn, who he called a “great physicist and meteorologist”.

However, the new Prime Minister’s stance seems to have altered as of late. During his stint as Foreign Secretary, he said he would, ‘continue to lobby the U.S. at all levels to continue to take climate change extremely seriously’. He has also voiced his support for the net-zero 2050 target as well as discussing falls in the cost of renewable technologies – and its subsequent growth in the UK.

Where now?

It’s impossible to say where Boris Johnson will head with energy and climate change policy in the next few weeks and months. It will be vital that Brexit does not eclipse upcoming decisions which will be crucial to the net-zero 2050 target.

The new Prime Minister must maintain the momentum that has been building towards achieving the net-zero 2050 target and identify the pathway that will keep the U.K on track. Sufficient government support would ensure a swift and cost-effective transition for everyone.