A leading energy boss has warned the government against undermining business confidence in the UK through weakening the country’s green goals.
Chris Norbury, chief executive of Big Six supplier Eon UK – home to five million customers, feared that watering down plans to phase out fossil fuel powered cars and boilers would jeopardise the certainty companies needed to transition to low carbon products.
He feared this was a “mis-step on many levels” – that risked the UK missing out on opportunities to “transform” the economy.
“From a business perspective, companies wanting to invest in the UK need long term certainty to create the jobs and economic prosperity the country needs,” he said.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to announce this afternoon that the upcoming bans on sales of new oil and gas boilers will be delayed, and that the deadline for phasing out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035.
Norbury is not the only energy boss to raise concerns today, with Nigel Pocklington, chief executive of Good Energy also questioning the business savvy of further tampering to the UK’s green agenda.
He said: “UK companies are committed to combatting climate change. We want to make the country a leader in the decarbonisation of power, heat and transport. In rolling back net zero policies, Sunak would not only be sticking two fingers up at nature and our children’s futures, but at British business.”
Trade body Renewable UK also feared that while the policies focused on heat pumps and electric vehicles, it could have a wider chilling effect on investor sentiment – with competition for green energy projects and companies in China, the EU and US.
‘If all we see from government is a negative framing of green technologies, and an indication they see green industries as something to be politicised, investors are going to look overseas at more stable and attractive markets instead,” said Dan McGrail, chief executive.
The latest policy changes also come in the context of a challenging investment climate in the UK, with the latest auction round for offshore wind failing to attract major bids, and concerns in the North Sea oil and gas sector over high taxes – with domestic production a key factor in the government’s supply security strategy.
Former chief executive of Siemens UK, Jurgen Maier, blasted the government’s approach to clean energy policy – describing its decision making as a three-step process for “destroying business confidence in a month.”
Writing on social media platform X, he spoke criticised the latest round of the offshore wind auction, the cutting back of HS2’s route, and the changes to green pledges – which he described as a “weakening of UK’s net zero ambitions.”
“It’s truly depressing, although I know from the many business people I speak to every week, that we are quietly getting on with our net zero plans. Sadly though, this government is no longer with us,” he said.