The government has claimed that a warning from their own advisers that not enough action is being taken to tackle the climate crisis is “wildly off the mark”.
An analysis from the UK’s independent Climate Change Committee (CCC) released on Thursday warned that progress on tackling emissions in key areas such as farming had been “woeful” and that not enough had been done to protect Britons from worsening climate impacts.
Lord Deben, the Conservative peer who chairs the CCC said the government’s recent climate commitments, including a pledge to slash the country’s emissions by 78 per cent on 1990 levels by 2035 were “very good” – but warned not enough was being done to turn promises into action.
“There’s no doubt at all that the follow on from agreeing to net zero by 2050 has been, in policy terms, really very good, and sets a major example. The trouble is – the action,” he told a press briefing.
“The delivery has just not been there. Almost all the things that should have happened have either been delayed or haven’t actually met the needs, they haven’t hit the mark.”
The government is currently not on track to meet its domestic climate targets for the late 2020s or the 2030s, according to a set of two progress reports from the CCC.
It is also not taking enough action to meet its international target of slashing emissions by 68 per cent by 2030, which was made as part of its obligations under the Paris Agreement – a major climate deal reached by countries in 2015.
Unless urgent action is taken, the lack of progress could “undermine” UK efforts to be a climate leader ahead of Cop26, a key global climate conference being held in Glasgow in November, the advisers warned.
The CCC’s assessment has received widespread praise from scientists, experts and politicians, with Green Party MP Caroline Lucas describing the findings as “spot on”.
But the government claimed in a statement that “any suggestion we have been slow to deliver climate action is widely off the mark”.
“Over the past three decades, we have driven down emissions by 44 per cent – the fastest reduction of any G7 country – and set some of the most ambitious targets in the world for the future, whilst driving forward net zero globally through our Cop26 presidency,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson added that the UK had made “clear, tangible progress” on areas including wind power and improving flood defences – and promised to set out a “comprehensive net-zero strategy this year”.