UK falling short on climate change targets
Britain set to miss legally binding goals in 2020s and 2030s, says committee on climate change chairman
BRITAIN is set to miss its climate targets, despite its multibillion-pound effort to clean up the power sector, due to slow progress in reducing carbon emissions from industry and transport.
Ten years to the month after Parliament passed the Climate Change Act to legally enshrine its binding carbon targets, the committee tasked with moni- toring the Government’s efforts has accused ministers of allowing its progress to stall.
In its annual report the committee on climate change said government has failed to heed to advice it issued at the start of the year, which warned that the multibillion-pound strategy to energise industrial growth with a low-carbon energy drive falls short of the UK’s legally binding climate change targets. Lord Deben, committee chairman, said while the UK seeks to lead the world in tackling climate change, “the fact is we’re off track to meet our own emissions targets in the 2020s and 2030s”.
The damning indictment directly contradicts data from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy that claims it will meet its “carbon budgets”, which limit the UK’s emissions over five-year periods.
The Government’s official climate advisers warned ministers in January that their plans do not go far enough to meet the legally binding climate targets.
Since then, there has been little evidence that the Government has taken the warning seriously, according to the CCC’s chief executive Chris Stark.
He said that the progress made in replacing polluting coal-fired power plants with low-carbon options “masks a marked failure” to decarbonise other sectors, including transport, agricul- ture and buildings. In the last five years, progress in these areas has stalled, Mr Stark warned, putting the Government on a path to breaching the Climate Change Act.
“At the moment, we are worried,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “We were worried last year about how long it took for the Government to produce its clean growth strategy. We said, in summary, that it would need to demonstrate how it would deliver on it. We haven’t seen any evidence of a real desire to deliver on it since,” he said.
For the first time, the committee has issued a strict diktat of measures the Government must take if it hopes to meet the targets laid out in the Climate Change Act.
Its four-point plan includes calls to establish a route to market for “cheap onshore wind” and a major boost to home energy efficiency measures. But addressing transport, agriculture and buildings is also crucial. “This action is now urgent in order to meet the UK’s legally-binding climate change targets, and to prepare to fulfil the obligations of the Paris Agreement,” he said.
The committee’s report also poured criticism on “the chopping and changing” of energy policy, which has derailed progress in energy efficiency, for example. It also called for tougher long-term regulation and enforcement of existing policies.
“There was a great deal of enthusiasm for all this 10 years ago and a great deal of political consensus. I think that political consensus is still there, but I’m not sure the enthusiasm to do it is. This report is our attempt to give some ammunition to that,” he said.
“In general, the story outside of waste and power is a pretty grim one.”
Chris Stark, CCC’s chief executive, said the Government is on a path to breaching the Climate Change Act