'An alarming lack of net-zero progress': Green economy reacts to latest CCC report
Prominent groups and individuals across the UK's green economy have expressed anger and disappointment about the nation's lack of progress on decarbonisation despite its net-zero pledge, as evidenced in the Climate Change Committee's (CCC) latest report.
Published today (24 June) the CCC’s progress report to Parliament for the year reveals that, with current policies, the UK is only likely to deliver one-fifth of the emissions reductions needed by 2035.
The Government recently adopted a new Sixth Carbon Budget for that time period, in line with the CCC’s recommendations, but it is already off track on delivering the Fourth and Fifth Carbon Budgets that will come before then.
To deliver the emissions reductions needed to set the UK up for its long-term climate target of net-zero by 2050, the CCC claims, several key policy packages that have experienced Covid-19 related delays must come as a “matter of urgency”, ahead of COP26 this November.
Reacting to the report, several key figures and groups from across the UK’s green economy have expressed disappointment, anger and renewed vigour to push Ministers for change. Here, edie rounds up all the key statements released in reaction to the CCC’s findings and recommendations.
The Aldersgate Group’s executive director Nick Molho said: “The only way the UK can credibly protect its economy from climate risks and get on track for achieving net-zero emissions is by making climate change a top priority for all Government departments and supporting this with detailed and timely policy plans. Today’s reports from the CCC show that this is clearly not the case at present."
"This Parliamentary term is critical for meeting the UK’s climate and adaptation targets and doing so in a way that delivers supply chain growth and job creation across the country. The extent to which the UK can minimise the costs and maximise the economic opportunities from the net-zero transition and adapting to climate change will ultimately depend on the policy decisions that the Government makes in the years to come.
“Whilst some welcome progress has been made in cutting emissions in the power sector, our extensive engagement with businesses show that there is a critical lack of policy measures to drive low-carbon investment in buildings, transport, agriculture and heavy industry. The Government can answer these concerns by publishing a detailed and cross-sectoral Net Zero Strategy ahead of COP26 and carefully co-ordinating this Strategy with the funding plan to be published by the Treasury as part of its Net Zero Review.”
Energy and Climate Change Intelligence Unit (ECIU) analyst Jess Ralston said: “There is no hiding that the Government is talking the talk but not walking the walk on climate action. Top-level strategies are essential, but without plans and policies, emissions will simply not fall. Luckily though, the ball is still in our court.
“There are now significant opportunities for the PM and Treasury to serve an ace, and to do so before COP26 in November. Of the utmost importance are Rishi Sunak, delivering a Treasury-wide plan on how reaching net-zero can transform run-down local economies and build UK-based green industries with huge export potential as well as jobs; actions to cut emissions from our homes that include bringing the cost of a heat pump down to that of a gas boiler; and frameworks to mobilise billions of private investment in our power system to provide unrivalled amounts of clean energy.
“Time is running out to make this future a reality. Other nations are steaming ahead on clean transport, industry, hydrogen and homes. More dither and delay risks global Britain, a trailblazer on setting targets, becoming a laggard on locking in industries of the future.”
IEMA’s director of policy and external affairs Martin Baxter said: “As the gap between what is needed to adapt and mitigate climate change diverges in terms of policy intervention and delivery, so the UK becomes more vulnerable and the costs of tackling the challenge increase.
Climate ambition without action is meaningless and the UK’s hard-won credibility as a global climate leader is under threat and magnified in the run-up to COP26. We need a rapid re-set to bring policy and action in line with the risks we face.”
IEMA’s climate change and energy policy lead Nick Blyth said: “Today’s CCC report demonstrates that the climate emergency needs action at pace. Adaptation and net-zero require strategies to deliver these transitions at the pace required and addressing interdependencies.
“Government must publish a coherent strategy for the UK’s economy to reach net-zero emissions which should include a clear way forward on developing the ‘green’ skills that will be necessary for its delivery.
“The CCC’s report introduces the concept of a net-zero stress test. This is welcome and could ensure that all Government policy, including planning decisions, is compatible with UK climate targets.”
Friends of the Earth’s head of policy Mike Childs said: “The Committee’s criticisms are spot on. Without a detailed strategy for combatting the climate crisis, Government promises to decarbonise the economy are simply more hot air.
“The Prime Minister must urgently set out his Government’s blueprint for slashing emissions in key areas such as homes and transport. With no climate action plan and his Government’s support for more roads, runways and an overseas gas mega project, Boris Johnson risks being a laughing stock at the UN climate summit in Glasgow later this year.
“The Chancellor’s role in delivering net-zero is crucial – unfortunately, this year’s Budget did little to demonstrate the Treasury’s enthusiasm for building back greener.”
WWF UK’s chief executive Tanya Steele said: “This assessment reveals an alarming lack of progress in meeting our net-zero commitments which is not just disappointing – it’s dangerous.
“We have long backed the CCC’s recommendation of a net-zero test to ensure all government spending and policy, including in the planning system, are compatible with our climate targets. The Government needs to do this urgently, alongside a credible strategy to reach net-zero, if it is to close the gap between its ambition and its action. We won’t forget the promises that have been made – and future generations won’t forgive a lack of urgent action.”
WWF Scorland's head of policy Fabrice Leveque said: “With the eyes of the world on Glasgow in November at COP26, the Scottish Government must get its own house in order domestically if we’re to play our part in keeping global warming below 1.5C.
"The only way to do this is to bring forward the ambitious new policies that will deliver the urgent change needed. The Committee recommendations to finalise the details for energy efficiency regulations and a new system of farm payments are where the new Scottish Government must now focus its attention. Only by increasing our efforts can we help ensure a fair and green future for us all.”
The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology’s (REA) chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska said: “The upcoming Heat and Buildings Strategy must represent a watershed moment for UK heat decarbonisation by providing an urgently needed clear and co-ordinated policy framework. The sector cannot wait any longer – the Government must publish the Strategy within a month and address the large policy vacuum for industrial and commercial heat decarbonisation that has been left after the closure of the Non-Domestic RHI.
“There needs to be a multi-technology approach with a recognition that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Biomethane, clean hydrogen, biomass, heat pumps and deep geothermal all need their own dedicated focus and there must be measures that will narrow the price differential between low carbon systems and fossil fuels.
“The REA’s ‘Strategy for Net Zero’ set the ambition for renewable and low carbon heat to be dominant form of heat by 2035, with the UK’s heat demand to be entirely met by renewables by 2050. These targets are non-negotiable if the UK is to meet net-zero and early action now is absolutely critical.”
The UK Green Building Council’s (UKGBC) chief executive Julie Hirigoyen said: “Following just a week after its Independent Assessment of UK Climate Risk, the CCC’s report adds to the growing evidence base that action to decarbonise the UK’s buildings, particularly our homes, and prepare them for climate change is simply not happening quickly enough.
“As the report highlights, progress in upgrading our new build standards and enforcing them properly has fallen behind. Likewise, the Government must seize the opportunity offered by the new Planning Bill to deliver development and infrastructure that is compliant with Net Zero and resilient to climate change.”
“The Committee is right to call for the recently proposed overheating standard for new builds to be expanded to cover refurbishments of existing buildings and conversions of non-domestic buildings to residential use. 80% of the buildings that will exist in 2050 already exist, and it is therefore imperative for the future of our buildings - and for the wellbeing of those who occupy them - that swift action is taken to encourage the uptake of adaptation measures for overheating.
“In order to successfully achieve our net-zero target, it is clear that a national retrofit programme to deliver energy efficiency measures and prepare our homes for the impacts of climate change must be delivered in the next 10-15 years.”
The Carbon Capture Storage Association's (CCS) chief executive Luke Warren said:
“The message from the Climate Change Committee is clear – we need to be moving further and faster on Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS). Whilst the UK has come a long way on CCUS, in particular introducing an ambition of capturing 10 million tonnes per year by 2030 in last year’sTen-Point Plan, this does not go far enough. Indeed, today’s report concludes that this ambition is 12 Mt/CO2 behind the necessary pathway to meet net-zero.
"It is clear that CCUS will be a vital part of the decarbonisation pathway for many key sectors and, as the Committee has emphasised, this decade will be critical for scaling up CCUS across industry, hydrogen, power, greenhouse gas removals and energy-from-waste.
"We now urgently need to move forward with the framework that will deliver the first CCUS clusters by 2030. The CCSA will shortly publish a report setting out the economic benefits of investing in a CCUS industry. We have modelled both the Ten-Point Plan scenario as well as the deployment levels recommended in the Sixth Carbon Budget. We look forward to sharing our findings and showcasing the tremendous UK opportunity from delivering a net zero compliant CCUS programme.”
The Energy Networks Association's (ENA) chief executive David Smith said: “The energy networks are the foundation on which we’ll build net-zero. Whether it’s electric vehicles or heat pumps and hydrogen, the networks are already doing much of the heavy lifting to deliver a smarter, more flexible energy system in a cost-effective way.
"Acting on the CCC's recommendations will help turn climate talk into climate action and, backed by regulation that allows strategic investment, we can unlock a more innovative, net-zero future for customers across the UK.”
Regen's chief executive Merlin Hyman said: “Today’s assessment from the CCC has laid bare the gap between the government’s climate ambition and the painfully slow pace of decision-making on key policies to phase out the use of fossil fuels. In the run-up to hosting COP26 in November, the UK’s opportunity to show global leadership and unleash a green jobs revolution is now being put at risk.
"Regen is calling for urgent progress on policies includinga transformational Heat and Buildings strategy, underpinned by a clear end date on new fossil fuel heating systems, fixing distortion of levies on (low carbon) electricity bills instead of high carbon gas and oil, and long-term incentives to help householders upgrade their homes; a laser-like focus on the transition to a zero-carbon power system including backing wind and solar with an ambitious round of Contracts for Difference, a clearer zero-carbon remit for Ofgem and the System Operator, and investment in preparing our energy networks for EV charging, heat pumps and decentralised renewable generation; and devolution of net-zero powers and funding to cities and regions to enable solutions that work for local people and places.”