The UK Government is being too slow to deliver on its historic climate promises, according to a major new report from the Climate Change Committee (CCC). The report warns that with every month of inaction that passes, it will be harder to get on track.
In its latest Progress Report to Parliament, the Committee has given its appraisal of progress on the UK’s twin climate challenges: cutting emissions to net zero and adapting to the climate risks being faced. Drawing on comprehensive analysis of the UK’s Sixth Carbon Budget and the third Climate Change Risk Assessment to present more than 200 climate policy recommendations, covering every part of Government, it says the opportunity to implement them is there if the government moves decisively.
Despite UK emissions falling to nearly 50% of their 1990 levels during the 2020 lockdown, emissions are expected to rebound in 2022. The CCC believes the relative success of decarbonising electricity must continue, but it must be matched with solid commitments to decarbonise buildings, transport, industry and agriculture. It advocates the introduction of a “Net Zero Test” which would ensure that all Government policy, including planning decisions, is compatible with UK climate targets. It also calls for the long-awaited Heat and Buildings Strategy to be published urgently.
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.”
Baroness Brown, Chair of the Adaptation Committee, commented: “The UK is leading in diagnosis but lagging in policy and action. This cannot be put off further. We cannot deliver net zero without serious action on adaptation. We need action now, followed by a National Adaptation Programme that must be more ambitious; more comprehensive; and better focussed on implementation than its predecessors, to improve national resilience to climate change.”
The CCC has provided recommendations to the Government, including bringing forward proposed plans to address overheating risk in homes through Building Regulations, making the Government’s next round of the Adaptation Reporting mandatory for all infrastructure sectors and implementing a public engagement programme on climate change adaptation.