Spending Review must address net zero agenda

Treasury must focus on six priorities, including training and R&D, say engineers

The National Engineering Policy Centre (NEPC) has called on the Treasury to focus on six priorities in this month’s Spending Review to help it address its net-zero and ‘levelling up’ agendas.

The group of 43 professional engineering organisations, which represents 450,000 engineers and includes CIBSE, said the government must follow through on its commitment to invest £22bn in R&D by 2024/25. It must also set out substantial increases for the intervening years, along with incentives for the business community to invest in the delivery of net zero.

In addition, the NEPC wants more investment in ‘low regrets actions’, including low carbon retrofit and refurbishment of the existing building stock, prioritising low carbon heat, such as heat pumps, and establishing a programme of training and competence in low carbon heat retrofit.

It also advises the government to set up a net zero delivery body to drive and coordinate progress across government and industry, provide systems-level analysis, share learnings about what works, and build a clear, evidence-based vision for a net zero UK. The need to invest in an ‘ambitious net zero skills plan’ was highlighted in the NEPC’s recommendations to the Review and it called for more investment in a long-term Stem education strategy.

The Review should embed long-term demand drivers into decision-making to build back better with low carbon, resource-efficient and resilient infrastructure, the group said, and ‘to pivot the UK towards a more sustainable and net-zero future’.

‘Front-loaded investment and action will also help to deliver sustainable public finances over the long term’, it added.