In this submission we address five of the inquiry questions where UKERC evidence and analysis provides us with relevant insights[1]. We draw upon UKERC reports and the wider literature in order to provide evidence based answers to a number of the Committee’s core questions. Key points include:

Trade-offs and co-benefits need to be actively managed if multiple environmental objectives are to be achieved and the low carbon transition is to enhance the natural ecosystems that are essential to prosperity and well-being. UKERC’s research on environmental goals informs the answer to Q1.

Energy efficiency and heat system retrofit in buildings offers an immediate ‘triple-win’ in terms of economic stimulus, societal benefits and environmental goals. A strong long-term economic case can also be made to boost investment in all of those areas where the UK will need to build infrastructure and capacity in order to meet decarbonisation objectives. UKERC has examined the evidence on green jobs. We explore this in more detail in our answer to Q2.

There are already skills gaps in the sectors relevant to energy efficiency retrofit and it is important to invest in addressing these, as we explain in the answer to Q3.

Further action is needed to strengthen the industrial strategy. Ambition needs to go well beyond the aim to decarbonise one (or even all) of the UK’s industrial clusters. Decarbonising all of industry will require research, development and demonstration support for breakthrough technologies and wider low-carbon infrastructure; market creation for products made via low carbon production processes; and promotion of resource efficiency and circular economy approaches. UKERC has published a number of reports highlighting where further action is needed, as detailed in Q4.

Our research shows widespread low carbon ambition in local authorities but significant challenges in converting this to action. To change this, government could establish a new policy mandate for net zero carbon localities, institutionalise local net zero carbon planning and implementation through a new statutory power and devolved resources, and invest in local authority net zero teams. Q5 reviews a range of evidence on the role of local government.

In what follows we provide short answers to the following questions:

  1. Whether the government should give a higher priority to environmental goals in future support?
  2. Whether the Government should prioritise certain sectors within its recovery package, and if so, what criteria should it use when making such decisions? What conditions, if any, should it attach to future support?
  3. How can the Government best retain key skills and reskill and upskill the UK workforce to support the recovery and sustainable growth?
  4. Is the Industrial Strategy still a relevant and appropriate vehicle through which to deliver post pandemic growth?
  5. How should regional and local government in England, (including the role of powerhouses, LEPs and growth hubs, mayoralties, and councils) be reformed and better equipped to deliver growth locally? The references provide greater detail, but we are happy to elaborate further or facilitate interaction with relevant experts on these topics.

[1] Note we have numbered our question responses 1 to 5 but we start with the 4th question in the list published by the Committee in the Call for Evidence