Government must take urgent action, to follow climate promises, says CCC report

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The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has today published two progress reports, assessing the UK’s success in cutting emissions and adapting to climate risks, stating that Government have been too slow in following climate promises with action.

The UK’s independent adviser on tackling climate change states that it is “absolutely critical” that a new Net Zero Strategy is published before the COP26 climate summit, with clear policy plans, backed fully by the Treasury, accompanied by a commitment to prepare the country for the serious climate risks facing the UK.

The first report, focused on the progress made in reducing emissions and achieving net zero, highlights that:

  • A Net Zero Test would ensure that all Government policy, including planning decisions, is compatible with UK climate targets.
  • An ambitious Heat and Buildings Strategy, that works for consumers, is urgently needed
  • Delayed plans on surface transport, aviation, hydrogen, biomass and food must be delivered.
  • Plans for the power sector, industrial decarbonisation, the North Sea, peat and energy from waste must be strengthened.
  • The big cross-cutting challenges of public engagement, fair funding and local delivery must be tackled.

The second report, focused on the UK’s adaption to climate change, shows that only five of 34 sectors assessed by the CCC have shown notable progress in the past two years, and no sector is yet scoring highly in lowering its level of risk. It highlights that Defra still lacks a strategy to ensure the agricultural sector remains productive as the climate changes and calls for further details on the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme. This report includes 50 recommendations, including:

  • Restore 100% of upland peat by 2045, including through a ban on rotational burning.
  • Bring forward proposed plans to address overheating risk in homes through Building Regulations.
  • Make the Government’s next round of the Adaptation Reporting mandatory for all infrastructure sectors.
  • Build a strong emergency resilience capability for the UK against climate shocks, learning from the COVID-19 response.
  • Implement a public engagement programme on climate change adaptation.

Lord Deben, Chairman of the Climate Change Committee said:

“We are in the decisive decade for tackling climate change. The Government must get real on delivery. Global Britain has to prove that it can lead a global change in how we treat our planet. Get it right and UK action will echo widely. Continue to be slow and timid and the opportunity will slip from our hands. Between now and COP 26 the world will look for delivery, not promises.”

Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, Chief Executive of the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA), said:

“The Climate Change Committee’s Progress report makes for very sober reading. At the REA we recognise and share the frustrations that the report outlines. In too many areas there are gaps in policy, inconsistent support and missed opportunities.

“Take the Heat and Buildings Strategy, for example. This was meant to be a landmark document which would set the agenda for heat decarbonisation over the next decade. It was meant to be published last year, but we are still waiting. Coupled with the closure of the Non-Domestic RHI in March, this significant delay has left a policy vacuum for our sector.

“In addition, the Green Homes Grant debacle really knocked industry confidence after a challenging year, and we are disappointed that our pleas for a VAT reduction on domestic clean technologies – in particular, domestic energy storage – have fallen on deaf ears. Warm words on net zero ambitions do not stack up when clean technologies installations are subject to 20% VAT and fossil fuel supplies continue to be set at just 5%.

“If the UK government is to meet its very welcome ambitions on net zero, there needs to be consistent, robust and long-term policy frameworks in place. There needs to be confidence that the government will abide by its commitments and they need to be proactive and responsive to our industry’s needs. We call on the government to immediately implement these policy measures and grab the low hanging fruit on offer to unleash investment and aid the green recovery.

“As this report demonstrates, the government must urgently match their rhetoric with action if we are to have any chance of achieving net zero.”

Friends of the Earth’s head of policy Mike Childs said:

“The Committee’s criticisms are spot on. Without a detailed strategy for combatting the climate crisis, Government promises to decarbonise the economy are simply more hot air.

“The Prime Minister must urgently set out his Government’s blueprint for slashing emissions in key areas such as homes and transport. With no climate action plan and his Government’s support for more roads, runways and an overseas gas mega project, Boris Johnson risks being a laughing stock at the UN climate summit in Glasgow later this year.

“The Chancellor’s role in delivering net-zero is crucial – unfortunately, this year’s Budget did little to demonstrate the Treasury’s enthusiasm for building back greener.”

The reports are available to read, in full, on the CCC’s website.

 

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