CCC: UK government failing to act on climate change

James Marshall
July 10, 2019

In a separate, related report, the committee also found that the United Kingdom is seriously underprepared for protecting citizens from the impacts of climate change, saying that England is still not ready to face even a 2C rise in global temperature.

It praises Prime Minister Theresa May for delivering that one policy - namely legislating for total decarbonisation of the UK economy by 2050 - but adds that whether the UK Government's commitment to this deadline is viewed as "credible" on an worldwide stage rests on policy action over the coming 18 months.

Published today (10 July), the two-part report warns that both business and Government have been slow in "showing they are serious" about tackling and preparing for climate change over the past year, noting that Ministers have delivered just one of the 25 environmental policies it flagged as "critical" in its 2018 report.

Tom Greatrex, CEO of the UK Nuclear Industry Association, said: "This report rightly highlights the significant policy gap that exists just to reach our previous, less ambitious decarbonisation targets. Not only have these network companies helped drive the low carbon transition, but they are working closely with government and the wider industry to ensure the networks remain resilient in the face of climate change".

The public must be fully engaged in the UK's net-zero transition. But worldwide ambition does not deliver domestic action.

It states that existing policies are now "inefficient" across nature conservation and restoration, health and wellbeing and the private sector, but claims that policy changes over the next 12 months could be sufficient to safeguard communities from impacts such as flooding and overheating. Of 33 key sectors assessed by the committee, none show good progress when it comes to managing climate change risk.

Lord Deben, CCC chairman, said: "It's time for the Government to show it takes its responsibilities seriously".

In order to meet the UK's legally-binding emissions targets, the CCC's 2019 Progress Report to Parliament recommends that Government policies to reduce United Kingdom emissions to net zero are business-friendly.

A further key request is for the upcoming Agriculture Bill to introduce a system whereby farmers are paid extra for working to conserve or restore nature after Brexit.

Stuart Hayward-Higham, technical development director, SUEZ recycling & recovery United Kingdom, said the United Kingdom will have only two years after the planned legislative timeframes for consistent collections, EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility schemes ) and DRS (Deposit Return Schemes) in which to deliver "affordable and viable" alternatives - which can often take five years or more to obtain planning, finance and to be constructed.

Recommended policy changes include a review of Building Regulations to account for overheating; the implementation of a time-bound national water consumption reduction target and the launch of the Environment Agency's proposed Flood Strategy in full.

The committee's report shows that government plans to deal with climate change impacts are insufficient in critical areas such as the natural environment, health, and business.

Britain has failed to set sufficient policies to combat climate change and must act urgently to cut greenhouse gas emissions to meet its new net zero target, a report by the government's climate advisers said on Wednesday.

Implement the Environment Agency's proposed Flood Strategy, including the need for flexible approaches to manage flooding in different parts of the country, natural flood management measures like tree planting, and increased property-level flood protection - around 9,000 properties need to be fitted with protection per year, up from 500 now.

"We know there is more to do and legislating for net zero will help to drive further action". Of 25 actions identified as needed by the CCC previous year only one was completed. The scale of deployment required by 2050 means we need to make rapid progress across all electricity sources. Policies that enable energy customers to participate in and benefit from the low carbon transition are central to that.

He noted: "Across the energy industry there is a growing sense of frustration at the lack of decision making from politicians to keep emissions falling". For immediate action we need focus on growing the role of existing sectors such as local energy and energy efficiency, which are already delivering lower costs and increased comfort and productivity for thousands of business customers and home owners.

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