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Christian Aid backs accusation of Gov having ‘no plan’ for cutting emissions to net zero

by Tola Mbakwe

Christian Aid has welcomed a new report claiming the UK Government is not prepared to carry out its promise to cut the UK's emissions to net zero, almost two years after the target was made into law.

A report from the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said there was no coordinated plan, with clear milestones, to achieve the legally binding goal to cut emissions by 100 per cent by 2050.

Joe Ware, senior climate journalist at Christian Aid, told Premier Christian News: "It's very easy to set a target for many years down the road. The hard stuff that this government has to do is to take those steps to make sure that we are actually going to hit that because anyone can set a target, but it's actually about hitting it. And so far, the government isn't really showing that they have a plan to do that.”

Ware added that the Government’s ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution announced last November doesn’t go far enough.

“There were some nice things in there for sure, but it lacked some real concrete measurables. There's a unique opportunity now with all of this stimulus money that the Chancellor has at his disposal to restart the economy. We wanted to see bold measures to boost electric vehicle charging infrastructure, to boost cycle infrastructure, to help decarbonize our homes and make everything much more energy efficient. Those big kind of investments… we just didn't see from the budget this week. So that's where things are missing domestically.”

The PAC report also warned the Government was not properly engaging with the public on the behaviour changes, such as eating less meat or replacing boilers or cars with cleaner alternatives, that will be needed to achieve the net-zero goal.

It comes as the UK seeks to show leadership on tackling global warming, as it prepares to host a key United Nations climate summit, known as Cop26, in Glasgow in November.

A separate report from MPs on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis) committee urged the Government to spell out how it would measure success at the climate change conference.

The Beis report called for the Government to set out a clear list of ambitions for the summit, with accompanying measures of success.

Darren Jones, chairman of the committee, said: "Cop26 this November must conclude with countries around the world setting out their road maps to delivering on the Paris Agreement targets set five years ago."

The Paris Agreement commits countries to limit temperature rises to "well below" 2C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to curb warming to 1.5C to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change.

Mr Jones said more focus must be given to the "overriding necessity" to agree on deliverable policies that keep global temperature rises to as close to 1.5C as possible.

And the Government must put sufficient resources behind the global negotiations to ensure agreements are reached at Cop26 to commit and help countries to make the required changes.

Ware told Premier he doesn’t think the UK is ready for the conference at the moment.

“We really need to see them stepping forward and doing something much more concrete between now and then that will show the UK does take this this job seriously,” he said.

"There are some big things that need to need to happen domestically. And the UK, as the host, needs to ensure other countries are coming forward with their own emissions reductions.

“Crucially, they need to be delivering on what's called climate finance. This is funding from rich countries, such as the UK and other developed countries, to poorer countries to help them decarbonize.”

On the domestic front, the UK set a target in 2019 to cut emissions to "net zero" by 2050, which requires reducing greenhouses gases to as near to zero as possible and offsetting any remaining pollution with measures to absorb carbon, such as planting trees.

The Public Accounts Committee said that, nearly two years on, the Government lacked a plan to deliver on net zero, though the MPs acknowledged it intended to publish a "plethora of strategies" this year.

As much as 62 per cent of future reductions in emissions will rely on individual choices and behaviours, from day-to-day lifestyle choices on diet to big-ticket purchases such as vehicles or heating systems.

But the report warned the Government had not yet engaged with the public on the changes needed, and it would also have to engage more with local authorities, including ensuring they have the necessary resources to do their bit.

It said the Government was not yet ensuring its activities to reduce UK emissions were not simply shifting greenhouse gas pollution overseas, which would undermine global efforts to tackle climate change.

A Government spokesperson said it was "nonsense" to say the Government did not have a plan, claiming the UK had been "leading the world in tackling climate change, cutting emissions by almost 44% since 1990 and doing so faster than any other developed nation in recent years".

They added: "Only this week in the Budget we built on the Prime Minister's Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution by encouraging private investment in green growth, and we are bringing forward bold proposals to cut emissions and create new jobs and industries across the whole country."

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