Future of energy is local, says Chris Skidmore at The Big Zero Show

By Staff
5 Min Read

The Big Zero Show kicked off with Chris Skidmore as the headline speaker for The Big Zero Lectures.

The event saw engaging discussions on climate action and net zero strategies.

In a lively Q&A session, audience member Peter asked Skidmore about the phrase “future warming pathway” – Peter found it more pragmatic than the usual “stop all emissions” rhetoric.

Mr Skidmore acknowledged that the term was partly an aside but emphasised the importance of effective communication on net zero.

He noted that “net zero” has become a polarising term, often used as clickbait: “Net zero in a way, it went viral far faster than I expected, but it’s now become slightly more common.

“A victim of its own success, you know, people see net zero and it sort of like, you know, polarises people and it becomes sort of clickbait.”

Mr Skidmore explained that policies around net zero need careful framing.

Chris Skidmore mentioned Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and the challenges of addressing them.

He highlighted the importance of scientific frameworks, such as those established by the World Resources Institute.

Mr Skidmore warned about overshooting the 1.5°C target set by climate agreements.

He emphasised that while the science is clear, the challenge lies in communicating it effectively to the public: “The science is there, but how you communicate that is very difficult.

“And, and for me, you know, people aren’t going to be reading this sort of 4,000-page AR6 report produced by the UNCCC. But it’s the responsibility of politicians to create new narratives to try and shape things.”

Another audience member, Lucy, asked about the risks and opportunities in devolving power to local authorities for the net zero transition.

Skidmore responded passionately – “the future of energy is local”, he said.

Mr Skidmore argued that local solutions could reduce demand on the national grid, making it more efficient.

Chris Skidmore said: “When you look at the sort of net zero grid that we’ve got to build out, actually creating flexibilities on the grid.

“If we build the existing grid that we need for net zero, it’s got to be six times the amount of infrastructure needed.

“If we can think about how to deliver it better locally, so we reduce demand on the grid, we can, it only needs to be twice the size.

“So there’s huge opportunities to look at reducing demand if we can look at local solutions. I feel that the role of government should be to set the frameworks and then get out of the way.”

Chris Skidmore shared examples of successful local initiatives.

He praised the Bristol City Leap, where a public-private partnership is decarbonising the city’s heat network. He also mentioned regional devolution in the West Midlands and Greater Manchester, where local authorities are leading decarbonisation efforts.

Mr Skidmore argued that decarbonisation should not be a reserved matter but handled by those who understand local needs best.

In closing, the Chair of the Net Zero Review emphasised that tailored, local approaches to net zero can reduce costs significantly.

Chris Skidmore urged for empowering local authorities to deliver net zero solutions effectively.

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