The Industrial Strategy sets out the UK government’s vision for a modern economy that works for everyone. It is centred on ten pillars to drive forward world leading, innovative products, such as low carbon energy technologies and advanced materials and manufacturing sectors. The pillars include developing the right skills base, creating a well-connected infrastructure and designing the right policies to bring together sectors and places. However, implementing the strategy will also have implications for the amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) the UK will emit.
The UK is committed to reducing GHGs through its international climate commitments. These are more ambitious than any previous global agreements. Therefore the UK needs to find a way to honour these while creating a vibrant economy. My fellowship will help understand how to embed climate change across all pillars of the Industrial Strategy to capitalise on the UK’s world leading, low carbon, strengths.
It is well recognised that energy plays a big part in climate change, but all aspects of our daily life can also have consequences on the climate. For example, whenever we build a road or a factory using steel and cement, emissions are generated to make these. My analysis will measure all these emissions and look for opportunities to reduce these, for example by designing products with less material inputs. This is a unique way to look at the full range of mitigation options beyond simply how energy is supplied.
GHG emissions are mainly driven by the energy supply (with renewable energy sources such as solar and wind emitting very little GHGs), the efficiency of energy used and the overall demand for energy. While low carbon technologies (i.e. solar and wind) will reduce emissions, the physical demands from creating new sectors and infrastructures to improve the UK’s competitiveness might increase emissions. My project will show how all these competing objectives can be balanced together to improve the competitiveness of UK industry while at the same time helping achieve its ambitious climate targets.
Climate models are used to predict how the climate responds to the generation of GHG emissions and our understanding of this is constantly improving. I will use a state-of-the-art climate model to measure how much GHGs the world has left to emit to stay within its climate target. I will then use different methods to allocate the UK a fair share of the global emissions we have left. By understanding how carbon intensity, efficiency improvements and demand for sectors in the UK have influenced emissions levels in the past, I will then be able to show how developments through the Industrial Strategy will drive UK emissions going forward.
I will engage with industries, who are responsible for implementing the strategy, to think about how they could embed climate commitments into their business practices and what they would need in terms of skills, infrastructure and investments to produce competitive, low carbon, products. I will talk to policy makers designing the strategy to think about how they could set policies to promote low carbon developments in these industries. This is an exciting project that brings together climate science, government policy and private companies to ensure we can tackle climate change while building a resilient, sustainable and competitive future for UK industry.