In June the UK became the first major economy to pass legislation requiring net-zero emissions by 2050. With a flick of his pen, interim-Energy and Clean Growth Minister, Chris Skidmore, upgraded the legally-binding target in the Climate Change Acat from an 80% reduction of emissions to 100%. With 38% of current energy consumption met by petroleum products, the downstream oil sector has a major role to play in achieving this ambitious target, which will necessitate a complete transformation in how we produce, distribute and consume energy.
That is why UKPIA has launched our own contribution to the national conversation on how we overcome the twin challenges of meeting our legal obligations to tackle climate change while maintaining growth and prosperity for all.
The UKPIA Future Vision outlines the many long-term opportunities facing the industry, which currently supports £21bn in GDP and around 300,000 jobs across the economy. Recognising that there are no ’silver bullets’ for decarbonisation, this report nonetheless makes the argument for a range of potential solutions to deliver lower lifecycle emissions from the downstream sector and the products we produce.
This includes manufacturing low-carbon liquid fuels, produced at ’Refineries of the Future’, which can help reduce emissions from road transport, delivered to consumers via existing distribution networks and without having to wait for a new car fleet. It could mean downstream operators working with other sectors in clusters, unlocking the door to a low-carbon economy. And it could occur with the deployment of enhanced efficiency, hydrogen and carbon capture to further decarbonise the fuel manufacturing process. However, to make this vision a reality we will need to ensure there is a policy framework in place to underpin an investment climate that encourages companies to decarbonise. That is why working with government and other stakeholders is vital to help establish a sustainable downstream sector with all the attendant economic benefits it brings to UK plc but also help enable the transition to a low-carbon future for all.