Policy shortfall puts government on track to miss its 2030 climate target

UK government climate plans announced in 2020 add up to less than a quarter of the emissions cuts needed to achieve its 2030 climate target, according to an end of year check by independent think tank Green Alliance.

The government made bold promises throughout 2020 to reduce emissions ahead of hosting the UN climate summit in Glasgow next year, including its ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, new plans for sustainable land management, ending the financing of fossil fuel projects abroad and the new target to reduce emissions by at least 68 per cent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels.

This puts the UK ahead of other countries in setting targets for carbon emissions reduction, but these ambitions need equally bold policies and the required funding to succeed, argues Green Alliance. The think tank’s 2020 Net Zero Policy Tracker report finds that government is yet to announce policy to achieve the 75 per cent of emissions reductions still needed to achieve its 2030 climate target.

Green Alliance says that additional policies needed to close the gap include commitments to restore up to 60 per cent of peatlands, raise energy efficiency standards for new homes and mandate car manufacturers to produce an increasing proportion of electric vehicles every year. This is in line with the advice recently given to the government by the Climate Change Committee.

More investment needed

The report also urges the government to ramp up spending achieve UK climate goals, calculating that it will take an extra £22.7 billion every year on top of the £21 billion already committed until the end of this parliament in 2024. It says most of this is needed to speed up changes to the country’s transport system, as it is the sector with the highest emissions, to ensure low carbon transport, including walking and cycling, are more convenient and affordable across the country. Higher spending in other sectors, like nature restoration, sustainable farming and cleaner, greener buildings, will also be needed to bring emissions down fast enough.

Jo Furtado, policy adviser at Green Alliance said, “The UK has set some great targets during 2020 about its intention to tackle climate change. As with all new year’s resolutions, however, there is a danger that bold intentions will swiftly dissipate. We’ll be looking for the government to move from ambition to action in 2021, with new policies to make hitting the targets possible. The UK has the longest history of producing carbon emissions in the world, it’s only right that we should be the country to lead the way out of the climate crisis over the next ten years.”