COP26 Update: Net Zero documents, COP26 letter and green hydrogen

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As COP26 approaches, Brevia will be tracking the latest milestones in the UK’s preparations for the upcoming climate conference. This week’s developments include the COP President’s letter on hopes and expectations for the Conference, updates on the timeline for the Net Zero Strategy and Net Zero Spending Review, as well as developments for green hydrogen in the UK.

1.  COP26 LETTER: PROGRESS AND EXPECTATIONS

This week, the COP26 President wrote a letter to all Parties of the UNFCCC detailing expectations and plans for accelerating progress ahead of the November event.[1]

The President outlined the most commonly cited concerns in his discussions with ministers and negotiators, with topics including adaptation and mitigation, ensuring inclusive action, as well as the importance of meeting the $100 billion mobilisation goal.

The President also provided an update on the current preparations, stating that monthly meetings of all Heads of Delegation were be held.

Questions around the format of the Conference were also addressed, with the President taking the opportunity to emphasise the UK’s preference for in-person negotiations, where feasible to do so. There have been concerns over plans for the Conference, with climate activist Greta Thunberg announcing that she does not intend to attend the event in person due to concerns that unequal access to vaccines could negatively impact the full participation of poorer countries. [2]

The UK has sought to move away from proposals to delay or change the structure of the event, with the COP26 President stating that there was ‘no desire for further postponement’ and that ‘all efforts were focused on ensuring that an in person conference can take place.’[3]

The COP Bureau has since confirmed that it will hold a virtual meeting from 31 May to 17 June 2021. [4]

2.  CLARITY OVER UPCOMING NET ZERO PUBLICATIONS

Speaking this week during the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee evidence session on the work of the Department, the Secretary of State for Business and Energy, Kwasi Kwarteng MP, shed some light on the expected timeline for the awaited net zero publications.

The Secretary of State confirmed that the Net Zero Strategy was scheduled for September, emphasising the importance of publishing this before COP in order to provide a ‘clear structure’ ahead of the event.[5]

When questioned on the Treasury’s Net Zero Review, the Secretary of Sate said he ‘suspected’ it to come at a similar time. The review had previously been penned for spring 2021.

The Heat and Buildings Strategy, the Government’s flagship document for decarbonising heat in households, had also been expected for early 2021. Speaking to the Committee, the Secretary of State confirmed that this would now be published at the end of Q2. He explained that the Heat and Buildings Strategy had in fact been ‘flipped’ with the Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy, which was published last month instead.

3.  PLANS UNDERWAY FOR UK’s LARGERST GREEN HYDROGEN PRODUCTION FACILITY

ScottishPower has unveiled plans to build the UK’s largest green hydrogen production facility. The group submitted a planning application for a 20 megawatt electrolyser to be based next to the country’s largest onshore wind farm, Whitelee.[6]

Under the proposal, the electrolyser will utilise surplus renewable electricity from the Whitelee wind farm. Alongside the plans for the electrolyser, Scottish Power also wants to build a new 40 megawatt solar farm and 50 megawatt battery storage project.

Scottish Power has said it expects the electrolyser to produce up to eight tonnes of green hydrogen per day. It is hoped that the project could be operational by 2023, subject to planning consent and investment decisions.

The proposal is part of the Green Hydrogen for Glasgow partnership, the partnership between ScottishPower, BOC and ITM Power, to create green hydrogen production facilities with clusters of refuelling stations across Scotland. The group is currently in talks with “’various government bodies about grant funding’. [7] A decision on the planning application is expected in autumn 2021.

The UK has set a target of 5GW hydrogen production capacity by 2030.[8]

 

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Notes

[1] The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, ‘UN climate change negotiations and making effective progress at the June session’, 12 April, link

[2] The Guardian, Agence France-Presse ‘Greta Thunberg says she will not attend Cop26 climate summit’, 9 April 2021, link

[3] The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, COP26 Oral Questions, 14 April 2021, link

[4] COP Bureau ‘COP Bureau Agrees to Hold Virtual Meeting’, 15 April 2021, link

[5] The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Oral evidence: The work of the Department and Government response to coronavirus, HC 301, 13 April 2021, link

[6] ScottishPower, ‘Green Hydrogen for Glasgow’, 12 April 2021, link

[7] The Times, Emily Gosden, ‘ScottishPower plans UK’s biggest green hydrogen plant in Glasgow’, 12 April 2021, link

[8] Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, ‘The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’, 18 November 2021, link

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