On Tuesday 30 June, Glennmont hosted the first instalment of their mini-webinar series titled ‘Glennmont Insights – Financing a clean energy future’. The one-on-one ‘in conversation’ events with key political and financial stakeholders taking place over the summer explore how we can bring forward the investment required to achieve decarbonisation targets as we emerge from COVID-19.
For the first event titled ‘How can we build a consensus on climate policy ahead of COP26?’, Founding Partner and Director of Glennmont, Peter Dickson spoke with the Labour Party’s Shadow Green New Deal and Energy Minister, Dr Alan Whitehead MP.
Dr Whitehead began by noting the change in the renewable energy landscape in the last thirty years, highlighting the difficulties faced by the sector three decades ago. He described the then widely held view that renewables were a “niche, hobby type activity”, adding that the UK has since seen renewables and low carbon energy on some occasions make up the majority of power inputs to the system. He credited the passing of the Climate Change Act in 2008 as being hugely significant in this shift and putting in place “a series of mechanisms which required the Government of the day to continue reductions of carbon output on a 5 year basis”.
The discussion moved on to investment in clean energy, where Dr Whitehead reflected that opinions on decarbonisation had changed. He noted that the economic returns from clean energy proved that there was economic good sense, as well as climate good sense in cleaner energy, which has resulted in an alignment of the main political parties’ views on the future of the UK’s energy market. He added the only real disagreement in Westminster is not ‘if’ we need to reach carbon targets or ‘what’ the targets should be, but ‘when’ we must arrive at our goals.
On leaving the EU and its effect on the UK’s decarbonisation targets, Dr Whitehead said he was sad that the UK would no longer be presented as part of the EU bloc, with a common target to aim for, and a common agreement that targets will be met. However, he said that he expected the UK to set targets that showed “greater ambition than Europe has so far shown”. Asked whether the European market was fit for purpose with a higher concentration of renewables – Dr Whitehead stated that there was a need to reform the way the market is regulated, making sure it is dynamic and can make use of new opportunities in the market when they’re available. He added that as we move further away from an older model, with fewer providers, the market must use modern technology and visibility in the system.
As the session concluded, Peter asked Dr Whitehead about the UK’s recovery following COVID-19 and where investment should be directed to support growth. Dr Whitehead listed the importance of offshore wind, biomass production and new waste management, as well as larger infrastructure projects like tidal lagoons as the necessary investments to provide jobs, fend off the looming financial crash and make headway on the UK’s net-zero targets.
Glennmont will continue play its part in support of the decarbonisation agenda and we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who signed up to listen to the discussion, and especially our speaker Dr Whitehead for their important and timely contribution.
For the next instalment of the series, Glennmont CEO Joost Bergsma will be speaking with Lord Turner of Ecchinswell who is Chair of the Energy Transitions Commission on Wednesday 15 July.