The UK Government has published its response to the latest annual progress report from the Climate Change Committee (CCC), which criticised the government’s lack of progress on decarbonisation and green policy ambition.
Each year, the CCC is legally required to report to Parliament on the UK’s progress towards its statutory climate goals. This year’s report was particularly critical, stating that the CCC’s confidence in the government’s ability to meet its targets for 2030 and beyond had fallen “markedly” over the previous 12 months, and that the UK had lost its global leadership position on net zero.
The CCC report concluded that credible plans exist for just 25% of the required emission’s reduction, meaning those with funding, enablers and timelines in place.
In its 218-page response, the government again insisted that it remains resolutely committed to the UK’s net zero emissions goal, claiming that it is “partly or fully acting” on 85% of the CCC’s priority recommendations and that it is “confident” of meeting all the UK’s interim carbon budget targets over the coming years.
However, the government also acknowledged that it needs to be “realistic” about the UK’s pathway to net zero emissions, stressing the need for a more “pragmatic, proportionate, and realistic” approach to net zero that avoids imposing costs on consumers.
The comments echo those made by the Prime Minister on September 20, when he rolled back some of the UK’s climate commitments, including the 2030 phase-out of new petrol and diesel cars and vans, and delayed the purchase of new gas boilers. At the time, the Prime Minister said that the UK must not “force families to make costly and burdensome changes to their lifestyles” in the name of net zero.
Shortly after, former Conservative minister and chair of the CCC, Lord Deben called the rollbacks “not to be conservative at all” and warned that it will damage businesses and undermine trust.
The CCC warned in a separate post that these changes would make achieving the UK’s net zero target “harder” and risked saddling consumers with higher energy and fuel bills due to prolonged reliance on fossil fuels.
The energy transition
A main point of criticism from the CCC came from the UK’s support of controversial fossil fuel projects domestically, namely additional rounds of oil & gas licensing, along with a new coal mine in Cumbria. The committee said the nation was, “sending confusing signals globally” and weakening its leadership position.
The government insists it is making progress in its reduction of fossil fuels, citing the sharp decline in coal use and powering ahead on renewable energy, along with “reversing the neglect and short-termism of previous governments” by spurring up nuclear innovation, citing the £700 million that has already been announced to help make the UK a global hub for nuclear fusion.
However, in the report’s foreword, Security Secretary Claire Coutinho MP reiterated the importance of fossil fuels to the nation’s energy security.
“As the Government takes forward a pragmatic and proportionate response to the path to net zero, a key part of this will be maintaining our domestic oil and gas industry to reduce the need for costly foreign imports, which have higher emissions and leave us at the behest of foreign regimes,” she wrote.
In recent weeks, both the World Economic Forum’s Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders and the We Mean Business Coalition have urged global leaders to tackle the issue of fossil fuels, which COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber has acknowledged is a thorny topic in the lead up to the next conference.
The government has pledged to set out the “next stage” of the environmental agenda before the https://sustainablefuturenews.com/sustainability/what-is-cop/COP28 climate summit in Dubai, which starts on November 30.
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