News

19th June 2019
Our net zero emissions pledge?

Renewable energy is a hot topic right now. With increasing talk of a “climate crisis”, and Extinction Rebellion protesters shutting down central London, the government is under huge (and overdue) pressure to respond. The Prime Minister recently committed to reducing UK carbon output to net zero emissions by 2050 – but is the government making things worse?

A new consultation by HM Revenue & Customs has proposed increasing VAT on energy saving materials, such as solar and battery storage, from 5% to 20%. This massive hike follows the closure of the FIT scheme and wipes out the discount on these eco-friendly products – it does not take a genius to see how this might hurt investment in UK renewables!

This is just the latest example of government failing to match actions with words when it comes to these reports and pledges with good intentions. The Switch2IT team has often singled out the Digital Britain report as a case in point, and for good reason. Despite pledging to revolutionise Britain’s high-speed broadband network, many parts of the country are still lagging behind 10 years on.

Which brings us to the latest big, shiny new government report on climate change: the Net Zero Technical Report. Far from filling us with confidence about the UK’s commitment to zero emissions technology, the report is a bit of a damp squib. It mentions nothing of societal changes around consumption – what we buy, how we travel etc. – which experts agree is a major issue to overcome. Our consumer culture bombards us with disposable technologies that we don’t need and increasingly cannot be repaired , leaving a huge carbon footprint after being shipped from the Far East.

The report also ignores issues around population. How can we reduce carbon emissions in the face of a population explosion in Africa and the Indian subcontinent? Do not expect any answers here. Closer to home, the report seems to buy into the myth that Britain is full of healthy people who cycle to the office, work locally and live happily married lives. In reality, Britain’s high divorce rates and culture of young adults leaving home at 18 results in scattered families that travel - often by car.

Working habits are of course changing, with remote working and digital communication an obvious benefit to the environment. But the hard truth is that, until we all start living differently and consuming less, this latest report is doomed to follow the same path as Digital Britain: irrelevance and broken promises.

If you were unfortunate enough to catch the recent “Our Next Prime Minister” debate on BBC1, you will have seen candidates squirm as a young climate activist from Scotland urged them to pledge a 2025 zero-emissions target. With the prospective PMs offering the usual climate platitudes, we cannot hold out much hope for genuine change unless leaders are brave enough to challenge our wasteful consumer culture.

Switch2IT: Be the change you want to see

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Latest News

19th June 2019
Our net zero emissions pledge?

Renewable energy is a hot topic right now. With increasing talk of a “climate crisis”, and Extinction Rebellion protesters shutting down central London, the government is under huge (and overdue) pressure to respond. The Prime Minister recently committed to reducing UK carbon output to net zero emissions by 2050 – but is the gover...

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