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Report urges UK government support for digital tech sector to meet net zero

The UK government ended 2020 with a flurry of environmental activity – the launch of a 10-point plan and an Energy White Paper – designed to keep the country on track towards meeting their net zero commitments. More guidance on the level of carbon emission reduction required came from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) in their Carbon Budget published in December.

Prior to these events, a report published in September by Deloitte and the digital technology trade association, techUK, revealed how digital technologies already in play could deliver a 15% increase in UK carbon emissions abatement by 2030. The report – Making the UK a digital clean tech leader – quantifies the potential reduction at 7.3 million tonnes of carbon and, in monetary terms, says that this could add £13.7bn Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK economy.

The report states that most of the decrease in emissions would come from “the application of smart grids to energy network, followed by the use of Industry 4.0 technologies in manufacturing [and] carbon savings from agriculture, mobility and smart building technologies”. By creating a better business environment, the UK can also win a slice of the growing climate tech market.

Among their recommendations to the government, techUK and Deloitte ask for a focus on “data for decarbonisation” to be incorporated within the forthcoming National Data Strategy. They also advocate the creation of a new Net Zero Tech Taskforce to unlock regulatory barriers which are preventing the UK from deploying clean technologies in energy and business.

It is also stated that testing new technologies designed to achieve net zero would benefit from longer trials and to rigorously test the underlying value propositions, market, commercial viability and business models.

One of the more eye-catching recommendations in the report was the advice to begin crowd-sourcing technological solutions to circumvent existing policy roadblocks. This is augmented by a plea for evidence on market incentives for net zero, an initiative which the report says would lead to renewed private investment in decarbonisation.

Appealing to private investment has been a recurring theme in the unprecedented number of budgets and financial interventions required from the government in response to the economic damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.


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