Advisory group the Industrial Strategy Council has warned the government that its plans for Net Zero are incomplete and underfunded.
In its annual report on the UK’s industrial strategy – the last before the group is disbanded – the Council said the government’s plans are not yet a complete roadmap for delivering Net Zero and several areas still lack the required scale to make progress at the required speed.
The plan relies heavily on private sector investment, but “Despite progress to encourage private investment, including through climate-related financial disclosures by the financial sector, the scale of this challenge looks considerable.” Among examples, it noted that UK investment in hydrogen was “overshadowed” by Germany’s €7 billion commitment.
The Council welcomed a more ‘joined up approach’ but it said policy co-ordination between local and national government was essential, adding “Local authorities will have an important role to play in achieving net-zero by leading the governments work on decarbonising sectors such as housing and transport.” It highlighted the Local Government Associations’ call for an outline of national and local government responsibilities, and support for councils to develop local Net Zero delivery plans.
More broadly, the Council gave the government good marks on infrastructure, saying it was a role model for how industrial strategy should be pursued across the other pillars.It said the UK has a real opportunity over the next decade to boost innovation and reduce inequalities across regions, “harnessing the benefits of a productivity-enhancing and fair transition to Net Zero emissions”. But at the moment the the proposed approach “appears over-reliant on infrastructure spending and the continued use of centrally controlled funding pots thinly spread across a range of initiatives.” It said innovation was about more than cutting-edge technology in the manufacturing sector; “it is about a wider set of investments (in data, software, design, people etc.) across a wider set of sectors”.
On levelling up, it said local growth has be rooted in locally designed strategies, that cover skills and culture as well as infrastructure. It noted the work that had been done on developing Local Industrial Strategies whose status, the report said, is now unclear. “As they drew on extensive research, and involved intensive collaboration between local actors, it would be a significant loss if the insights contained within them, and the networks established through them, were to go to waste. It is also unclear who will oversee delivery of local plans, as Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are not mentioned in the Plan for Growth.”
Read the full report here