Committee on Climate Change chief issues warning for next government
The next government must be strong enough to make tough decisions as 2020 shapes up to be "critical" in the battle to cut emissions, the chief executive of parliament's climate change watchdog has warned.
Chris Stark, who heads the Committee on Climate Change, told the annual conference of the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association this week that the “strength of the Government” will be “a massive issue” after the election.
“The things we know we need to do, almost regardless of who is in No 10, will involve some tough decisions,” he said, adding that the next Government cannot duck the net-zero emissions target since it was enshrined in legislation earlier this year.
“The important things that we want to tell the next administration is to obey that law and make that plan: the plans we have now are insufficient.”
But Stark said that since parliament passed the net-zero law in June “very little has happened beyond talking” on tackling carbon emissions.
And the upcoming year will be “critical”, he said: “The next six months in this country are more important than any six months since we started focusing on climate change. I hope the next administration will have a set of policies that make sense: if they don’t, you will hear from us more and more.
“If we don’t have the conditions right in the next ten years, the next millennium looks pretty ropey. Policy needs to happen very quickly or the transition starts to look extremely difficult.”
Stark said that the UK government will also be under pressure to deliver a “credible” plan for cutting emissions by the end of next year when Glasgow hosts the UN COP 26 climate change talks.
“The UK needs to do more than it has done already.
“It matters for the UK that it (COP 26) is a success because of the need to host a summit well and show that Britain has not disappeared into a national corner and that it’s still a global citizen.”
But he expressed concern that the lack of progress at the COP 25 talks, which are currently taking place in Madrid, will mean there is a “great deal” for the Glasgow gathering to sort out.
But Stark said it is good news that the Treasury had published the terms of reference for its review of net-zero before the general election campaign, when Government announcements are suspended.
“If they weren’t that fussed, they wouldn’t have bothered. It’s great because it means that they are taking it seriously.”
He also said that there must be targeted support for anaerobic digestion and biomethane because they have an important role to play in helping to improve the flexibility of the energy system.
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