Climate Change Committee: UK fails to deliver on net zero promises

The UK’s independent climate adviser to government has emphasised the urgent need to quadruple annual emissions reductions outside the electricity sector within the next seven years

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has expressed concern over the government’s slow progress in meeting its climate goals, stating that the confidence in achieving targets beyond 2030 has significantly declined compared to the previous assessment.

Despite the publication of the detailed Carbon Budget Delivery Plan, the CCC has identified “missed opportunities” to accelerate progress.

The committee emphasises the need for a quadrupled rate of annual emissions reduction outside the electricity sector within the next seven years.

The CCC has criticised the government’s reliance on unproven technological solutions instead of focusing on encouraging individuals to reduce high-carbon activities.

Insufficient progress has been made in planting trees, rolling out heat pumps and supporting decarbonised industries, according to the report.

The committee highlights the confusion caused by the government’s support for new oil and gas projects, the absence of clear policies for decarbonised industry, the need for rapid planning reform, and the importance of accelerating the deployment of electric heating.

Furthermore, the CCC calls for a halt in airport expansion until a UK-wide capacity management framework is established and emphasises the importance of accelerating tree planting, peatland restoration and implementing a new framework for land use change.

Lord Deben, Chairman of the CCC, said: “The lesson of my ten years at the CCC is that early action benefits the people of this country and helps us to meet the challenges of the coming decades more cheaply and more easily.

“Yet, even in these times of extraordinary fossil fuel prices, the government has been too slow to embrace cleaner, cheaper alternatives and too keen to support new production of coal, oil and gas.

“There is a worrying hesitancy by Ministers to lead the country to the next stage of net zero commitments. I urge the government to regroup on net zero and commit to bolder delivery. This is a period when pace must be prioritised over perfection.”

A government spokesperson said: “We can be proud of the UK’s record as a world-leader on net zero. We are going far beyond other countries and delivering tangible progress whilst bringing down energy bills with hundreds of pounds coming off bills from next month.

“The UK is cutting emissions faster than any other G7 country and attracted billions of investment into renewables, which now account for 40% of our electricity. In the last year alone, we have confirmed the first state backing of a nuclear project in over 30 years and invested billions to kickstart new industries like carbon capture and floating offshore wind.

“With a new department dedicated to delivering net zero and energy security, we are driving economic growth, creating jobs, bringing down energy bills, and reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuels.”

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