Published: 01.12.2023

Wind2's Ambitions for COP28 - A Call for Renewable Energy in the UK

COP28 will be held on the 30th November to December 12th 2023 in Dubai. With discussions on fast-tracking the transition to clean energy sources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions before 2030, Wind2 is passionately advocating for a robust UK stance on significantly expanding the amount of energy generated by renewable energy projects in England and Wales and adding to the already significant strides made by Scotland.

Addressing Planning Restrictions

The regulatory environment in England presents significant challenges for wind-based renewable energy projects and solar initiatives. To achieve the UK's net-zero ambitions, a fundamental shift in perspective is essential. Despite the commitment to phasing out gas boilers by 2035, fossil fuels still dominate, placing mounting pressure on the national grid and increasing the demand for renewable electricity.

Additionally, the recent release of the National Planning Policy for Chapter 6 of Planning Policy Wales by the Welsh Assembly will impose stringent restrictions on building projects across the board. While Wind2 fully supports biodiversity preservation, a balance must be struck between safeguarding natural habitats and advancing renewable energy.

Meeting Renewable Energy Goals

Scotland has made remarkable progress in its pursuit of achieving 100% renewable energy, demonstrating an unwavering commitment. With the recent Onshore Wind Sector deal, the Scottish government together with the onshore wind industry have set out commitments to deliver the ambition of 20GW of onshore wind in Scotland by 2030 whilst delivering maximum benefit to Scotland. Their additional recent announcement to incorporate a minimum of 4GW of solar energy into their energy mix, with a desire for 6GW, exemplifies this stance. Over the past two decades, Scotland has overcome initial planning constraints through collaborative efforts, facilitating the large-scale development of wind farms which contribute to the country’s low carbon electricity generation profile while providing significant economic benefits for local communities.

Across the UK, numerous local authorities have set ambitious net-zero targets that will be challenging to achieve without the implementation of larger scale renewable energy projects. Without a comprehensive review of planning restrictions and expedited grid connections, reaching renewable energy goals in both England and Wales will remain an uphill battle.

The Importance of Commitment to COP28 and the Paris Agreement

Whilst pledges are a starting point, without accompanying legislation, a comprehensive review of the planning rules in England and Wales and unwavering commitment, these pledges may amount to mere lip service. The objective of the Paris Agreement, to limit the temperature increase to below 2°C with an aim of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, is at risk with recent COP and government commitments showing significant dilution.

Mobilising the Expertise and Investment

The renewable energy industry benefits from substantial private investment and expertise, poised to intensify efforts in reducing the UK's carbon emissions. It's imperative that the entire UK, not just the devolved Scottish Government, collaborates in embracing these initiatives. Wind2 is proud of its achievements to date, but the persisting lack of grid connection and resulting delays combined with the planning restrictions and legislative gaps are frustrating.

Wind2's Managing Director, Sarah Smith, emphasises; "Our devolved and central governments need to align for us to make substantial strides in reducing carbon emissions through renewable energy projects. Scotland alone cannot carry this burden. A broad and innovative approach is essential to meet the Paris Agreement."

She further emphasises, "While I wholeheartedly support COP28 and any additional commitments made, the current restrictions are impeding England and Wales from transitioning to renewable energy. A more targeted approach is warranted."

Championing the Planet’s Survival

The stark reality is that global warming continues to escalate, resulting in more frequent and extreme weather events that have plagued the world in recent years. Allowing this trend to persist threatens to render parts of the globe uninhabitable, triggering mass displacements, wildlife extinctions, and resource depletion.

Sarah concludes, “My hope is that COP28 will reinvigorate the Paris Agreement, and the UK government will reconsider recent U-turns on climate change policies. To ensure our planet's survival, we must reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and continue to innovate in renewable energy technologies.“

For more information about Sarah Smith and the Wind2 team, visit 'Our Team' page.