Government action to cut emissions lagging behind what's needed


The UK Government must show it is serious about its legal obligations to tackle and prepare for climate change and reach its net-zero target, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has said in a new report.

UK action to curb greenhouse gas emissions is lagging far behind what is needed, even to meet previous, less stringent, emissions targets.

Over the past year, the Government has delivered only one of 25 critical policies needed to get emissions reductions back on track, the CCC says.

Of 33 key sectors assessed by the Committee, none show good progress when it comes to managing climate change risk.

Baroness Brown of Cambridge, Chair of the CCC’s Adaptation Committee, said: “The UK is not ready for the impacts of climate change, even at the minimum expected level of global warming. The Government is not yet addressing adequately all of the climate risks it has itself identified as critical – including from surface water flooding and the impacts of high temperatures on health. As the UK prepares to host next year’s global climate summit, the Government has a window to demonstrate its commitment to addressing these responsibilities. Citizens, homes, workplaces and critical infrastructure must be prepared for a future with unavoidable climate impacts. The effects of climate change are already being felt in the UK.”

In order to meet the UK’s legally-binding emissions targets, the Committee’s 2019 Progress Report to Parliament recommends that net-zero policy is embedded across all levels and departments of Government, with strong leadership at the centre. The new Prime Minister will need to lead the UK’s zero-carbon transition from day one, working closely with First Ministers in Wales and Scotland and in Northern Ireland, once appointed.
The government's policies to reduce UK emissions to net zero must be business-friendly. Policy should provide clear and stable direction and a simple, investable set of rules and incentives which leave room for businesses to innovate and find the most effective means of switching to low-carbon technologies.
The public must be fully engaged in the UK’s net-zero transition, the CCC urges. Over half of the emissions cuts required to reach net zero require people to do things differently. Policy and low-carbon products should be designed around individuals’ needs.
The UK should use its new net-zero target, and potential position as host of COP26, to encourage increased effort to reduce emissions worldwide, including pushing for the adoption of similar world-leading targets by other developed countries in the EU and beyond.