Resource Use

Ecotricity unveils its vision of a green Britain

The decisions and actions of the incoming government will be vital in realising a green future for Britain, according to renewable electricity firm Ecotricity.

The claims come in the company’s newly-released ‘2030 Vision for a Green Britain’, created in partnership with independent consultancy Cambridge Econometrics, in which it sets environmental targets for 2030 and outlines the key policies needed to get there.

The vision focuses on three key areas: energy; transport; and food.

Ecotricity unveils its vision of a green Britain

Based in an idealised 2030, the vision outlines that ‘almost half’ of the nation’s electricity is being provided for through offshore wind, with ‘onshore and biomass providing an additional 25 per cent’. It adds that this renewables industry is also creating ‘almost 150,000 new jobs in engineering and over two million jobs in the wider green economy’.

Ecotricity also reveals its hopes that ‘by 2030 the contribution of domestic transport to Britain’s carbon footprint has fallen by around 40 per cent’ and the decrease in particulates has ‘generated an estimated £1.2 billion saving to the economy in health benefits’.

Food waste, which the report calls ‘one of the most difficult but important challenges’, will also be halved from 2015 to 2030 in the company’s preferred scenario, with ‘packaging recycling increasing to 80 per cent’ in the same time frame.

The main method of reducing food waste, the report suggests, is by ‘changing attitudes’ – with consumers ‘being less literal about use-by dates and cooking up leftovers’ – and by tackling the current emphasis on ‘food perfection’, which accounts for much of the nation’s edible fruit and vegetable waste.

Key policies for realising the 2030 Vision

It outlines that the UK government would reach the 2030 vision by implementing a range of policies, including:

  • introducing pay-as-you-throw for non-recyclable waste in 2020;
  • enforcing new packaging recycling targets for paper, glass, steel, wood, and aluminium;
  • requiring all plastic packaging to be recyclable by 2025;
  • creating a minister for carbon to set carbon limits across all sectors of the economy;
  • implementing ‘quantitative greening’ – buying bonds issued by the Green Investment Bank to aid investment in green infrastructure;
  • ending fossil fuel subsidies by 2025 – as part of an ‘ambitious 2030 decarbonisation target’;
  • increasing support for electric cars – removing VAT on electric vehicles in preparation for ‘all new cars’ being either electric or plug-in hybrids by 2030;
  • introducing a ‘cow tax’ – establishing ‘a range of duties on both British and imported meat and dairy products based on their environmental impact’; and
  • enforcing a ban on sending anything recyclable to landfill by 2025 – one of four parts of the imagined ‘Circular Economy Britain package’.

The accompanying report, ‘The Economic and Environmental Effects of a Low Carbon Future’, uses models to predict the economic ramifications of Ecotricity’s vision.

It suggests:

  • a ‘concerted effort to decarbonise the power sector could lead to fossil fuel savings of £3.9 billion annually by 2030’;
  • ‘more sophisticated technologies installed in new vehicles’ would lead to an increase in average vehicle cost and an increase in the output of the motor vehicles sector, creating ‘an £8 billion increase in the sector’s economic output’; and
  • ‘the reduction in demand for petroleum’ would lead to annual fuel bills for the average car owner falling from £1,190 in 2014 to £560 by 2030.

Next government ‘will go a long way in deciding our carbon future’

Writing in the document’s foreword, Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, said: ‘The politicians we put in power in 2015 will lead the UK through a period which will go a long way in deciding our low carbon future…

‘Government has done some smart things. But we have to go much further and under the current government progress has slowed too much.

‘We need to set some targets for where we want to be in 2030. And we need a roadmap to get there. It will mean tough decisions and it will mean accepting a change in how we do things.’

He added: “There will come a time when people will laugh at the idea that instead of producing our own energy from free wind and sunshine, we used to pay someone else to do it. When they will be shocked that we used to send billions of pounds overseas every year to foreign governments just for the privilege of burning their natural resources and polluting our planet.

‘That time can be and has to be nearer than we think. It can be 2030, which in energy terms is just around the corner.

‘This document is not a report and it is not a forecast – it is an attempt to imagine what it might be like to look back at these choices from one possible 2030.’

Read Ecotricity’s ‘2030 Vision for a Green Britain’.