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ECA cautions against net zero targets becoming political football

Electrical contracting firms are central to installing low carbon technologies in every aspect of the  UK’s built environment. Leading electrotechnical trade body, ECA, says confidence in investing in net zero business and training would be boosted if UK’s net zero targets were depoliticised.  

ECA’s Member firms and others in the sector have invested heavily in anticipation of the 2030 and 2035 net zero targets on EV infrastructure, battery storage, solar PV and low energy heating. Until now, business has welcomed the political and industry consensus on net zero and the clear roadmap to achieve this.

As business confidence and investment rely on a consistent approach by governments, ECA believes net zero targets should be depoliticised. This will allow the UK’s national Parliaments to work together with industry to develop the policies, technologies and skills needed to reach net zero.

Paul Reeve, ECA’s Director of CSR, commenting on the Prime Minister’s announcement said:

Rishi Sunak’s overall direction of travel towards achieving net zero has not changed. But a delay in the timescale will undoubtably shake the confidence and plans of many large and small businesses alike, not to mention consumers.

“The new timetable gives more time to decarbonise and develop the UK grid. Instead of focusing on one or two low carbon fixes, it’s an opportunity to move to a ‘technology agnostic’ approach, by installing the most energy efficient solutions.

“It’s also a chance for the government’s overdue review of  electricity pricing -  to make it fairer for households adopting low carbon electrical technology - to get back on track.  

“Alongside this, the UK’s EV charging infrastructure must be significantly ramped up to satisfy customer demand and meet crucial safety standards”.

Existing technologies can already deliver the carbon savings needed to reach 2050 net zero targets. A much greater obstacle to achieving the targets, not mentioned in the PM’s statement, is the shortage of competent professionals to install these technologies.

While ECA welcomes the Prime Minister’s boost for research and development, it will do little to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions in the short term. Investment in training and skills cannot wait if the UK wants to stay ahead of the net zero curve. Industry needs certainty to invest in the training needed for a safe transition to a  low carbon economy.

Andrew Eldred, ECA’s Director of Workforce and Public Affairs and said:

“The extra time available must be used to good effect, low carbon technologies are evolving fast, but they all require a level of core competence to be installed safely.

“To train just to install EV charge points will not equip you to be an installer of future technology or to retrofit a building. Neither will it equip you to understand how that piece of tech integrates with other low carbon technologies.

“It might in fact lead to greater carbon emissions, through a malfunctioning building. But most worryingly, without the right level of competence, it could prove dangerous to consumers and lead to grid capacity issues. The safe and reliable electricity we all enjoy today in the UK relies on a century of work to maintain high standards”.

ECA are currently running a series of ten net zero roadshows for their members. These are designed to help installers consider the practical and business implications of pivoting their firms to net zero work.

Last updated 21 September 23