The policies and pace of transition
The Assembly has held 14 meetings covering topics such as the international response to climate change, its local context, how far and fast Jersey should go to reduce carbon, key sources of emissions, renewables and carbon sequestration. It’s been a lot to take in. Now the Assembly will recommend to the Government the policies and pace we should adopt to achieve the transition to carbon neutrality.
We have been fully supportive of the Assembly and believe it is an important step to inform and engage all Islanders in the climate emergency. We know the issues can be complex, and as the Island’s leading low-carbon energy provider, we work hard to make our position simple to understand, open and transparent.
Our 10-point summary
- Striving for carbon neutrality is not only the right thing for Jersey to do; it is also a huge economic opportunity. Carbon neutrality should not be viewed as a straight cost but an investment in a sustainable future.
- Although it will be immensely challenging to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, we believe it can be done with a clear and bold vision and a high degree of engagement, commitment and partnership between Government, business, community and individuals. A sense of collective ambition is needed with a focus on immediate actions.
- The Island is extremely well-positioned. JE’s low-carbon importation strategy has been the key driver of a one-third reduction in Jersey’s overall carbon emissions over the last 30 years, despite a 60% increase in electricity consumption. Jersey’s electricity is already now virtually completely decarbonised.
- The only way Jersey will decarbonise further is to switch away from fossil fuels to electricity. The heating of our buildings and running of our vehicles are by far the biggest carbon emitters that need our immediate attention and urgent transformation.
- One-third of the electricity we distribute is already certified renewable hydropower from France. The remaining two-thirds come from low-carbon nuclear sources (with <5% from on-Island sources, primarily GoJ owned Energy-from-Waste facility).
- Local renewables are very unlikely to lower overall carbon emissions because they are far more likely to displace imported electricity, which is already virtually completely decarbonised. JE is still investing in local ‘community’ renewables with a focus on reducing costs (as they are presently much more expensive than imported electricity).
- Jersey’s low-carbon grid is largely ‘future proofed’ with spare capacity and could facilitate a carbon-neutral future faster and more cost-effectively than almost anywhere else. JE is willing to make any further investment necessary in the grid, and we believe this could be done without that investment driving up electricity prices. The grid will also play a crucial role in backing up and enabling more local renewables such as solar PV or offshore wind, which are intermittent.
- JE is investing hugely in new technology such as EV charging, heat pumps, smart metering (including digital apps), smart home and big data, which will help energy efficiency, comfort and control. Hydrogen is unlikely to have a role in the short to medium term. Biofuels may have a limited role but are more expensive than electricity and come with their own environmental issues. Batteries are not cost-effective, and the grid is still needed in any case, effectively acting like a big, low-cost battery with the added benefit of spare capacity.
- Jersey’s lowest-cost solution to its carbon challenge is to improve our energy efficiency hugely and then ‘electrify what’s left’, focusing on electric heating of buildings (especially heat pumps) and electrifying vehicles (alongside encouraging cycle lanes, personal e-mobility, shared and public e-transport).
- Funding is needed for energy efficiency, e-transport and low-carbon solutions in homes and businesses (including help for the vulnerable), but technical solutions are already available and will, in most cases, pay back over the long term. ‘Stick and carrot’ (incentives and disincentives) and non-financial support are needed to help consumers make informed choices and change behaviours. For example, the polluter needs to pay the cost of carbon damage (at the moment, it is ‘free’ to pollute). Similarly, consumers need to see value from reducing carbon emissions.