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Climate Change Committee: A key opportunity has been missed

Titled, ‘Better transparency is no substitute for real delivery’, the new Climate Change Committee report into the Government’s progress towards Net Zero is unrelenting in its criticism of the painfully slow progress that is threatening to destabilise almost all the initiatives currently being undertaken.

While greenhouse gas emissions have fallen 46% since 1990, the current rate of reduction needs to quadruple to meet the 2030 target.  While acknowledging that there are ‘glimmers’ of the Net Zero transition in areas such as the growth of renewables and the adoption of electric vehicles, neither are moving quickly enough. 

Whereas the above examples provide ‘glimmers’, the state of progress in tree planting and the roll out of heat pumps doesn’t. ‘The Government continues to place their reliance on technological solutions that have not been deployed at scale’, the report says, ‘in preference to more straightforward encouragement of people to reduce high-carbon activities’.

Looking back at the recommendations they made last year, the committee seem to be in some despair, with seven of their recommendations having been, essentially, ignored completely. 

In other comments, the report says the Government has undermined it’s rhetoric by its support for new oil and gas. Elsewhere they are accused of having high ambitions but no clear policy to deliver it.

Lord Deben, Chairman of the Climate Change Committee, said: ‘The lesson of my ten years at the Climate Change Committee is that early action benefits the people of this country and helps us to meet the challenges of the coming decades more cheaply and more easily. Yet, even in these times of extraordinary fossil fuel prices, Government has been too slow to embrace cleaner, cheaper alternatives and too keen to support new production of coal, oil and gas. There is a worrying hesitancy by Ministers to lead the country to the next stage of Net Zero commitments.

‘I urge the Government to regroup on Net Zero and commit to bolder delivery. This is a period when pace must be prioritised over perfection.’

Following the report’s publication, Mike Thornton, Chief Executive, Energy Saving Trust said: ‘It’s disappointing that progress towards net zero is still falling very short, following the Climate Change Committee’s conclusion that the likelihood of meeting our net zero goals from 2030 is even lower than it was twelve months ago.

‘External factors impacting the energy market over the past year have closely aligned key policy areas – energy security, affordability and decarbonisation. Yet the UK Government has missed opportunities to do more to support households and businesses in both the short and long term, while driving decarbonisation and increasing energy security.

‘It doesn’t have to be like this. New research for the CCC, carried out by Energy Saving Trust and Green Alliance*, shows that there are important lessons to learn from policies introduced by jurisdictions around the world that have cut both carbon and costs.

‘Crucially, these international case studies successfully address four key gaps in UK policy: supporting homeowners to act on energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation; encouraging behaviour change to effectively reduce energy demand; promoting business energy efficiency and increasing access to low carbon technologies for people on low incomes. Similar initiatives must be prioritised here.

‘This must be a wakeup call – we now need to see rapid progress on energy security, energy efficiency and carbon reduction, both to address the current acute energy crisis and protect our planet for the future’.

Dr Ashok Sinha, CEO at climate solutions charity Ashden said: ‘Today’s report from the Climate Change Committee that the UK government is missing almost all its targets is deeply worrying, says 

‘Instead of fuelling the climate emergency by planning to expand oil and gas production, the government should instead refocus on cutting the UK’s emissions. This includes urgently delivering energy efficiency programmes at pace, saving money for millions of people who are suffering badly from the cost-of-living crisis.

‘The cost of the government’s inaction is being borne by families up and down the country. As well as undermining the government’s own net zero targets, it drains our wallets and leaves our homes cold in winter, and overheated in summer – that is why we must invest in energy efficient measures (as well as renewables) if we are to get back on track.’

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Keith Mortimer
Keith Mortimer
10 months ago

I have never seen such a policy vacuum, with missed opportunities galore: home insulation, battery and automotive investment, EV road pricing, change in transport mode usage. windfall tax opportunities, allowing new oil exploration….. think of a good policy and do the exact opposite. What a pity. And weak government carries on. Time to get a grip.

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