Government has made ‘little to no progress’ on climate action ahead of Cop26, says think tank

·3-min read
PM Boris Johnson will act as president of the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow from 1 November (Getty)
PM Boris Johnson will act as president of the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow from 1 November (Getty)

PM Boris Johnson’s government is approaching its “make or break moment” in its attempts to meet targets for reducing carbon emissions ahead of the Cop26 climate conference, a think tank has warned.

There has been “little to no progress” in vital policy areas, according to analysis from think-tank Green Alliance – a warning that comes 50 days before Mr Johnson acts as president of the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow from 1 November.

The government’s plans to reduce emissions would only add up to just under a quarter (24 per cent) of cuts needed to hit its goals as set out in Agenda 2030, the think tank said.

Agenda 2030 vows to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050 “across the economy”, as legislated by the Climate Change Act (2008).

The Department of Transport has made the most progress –as it is almost halfway (49 per cent) to hitting its emissions reductions target – but other government departments are lagging behind, according to researchers.

Farming and land has made 7 per cent progress to meet targets, while energy and power has made 12 per cent, and waste 15 per cent.

The government must back the Net Zero Strategy with funding in its Comprehensive Spending Review, to “rapidly close the gap” between current reductions and the 2030 target, the think tank said.

Caterina Brandmayr, head of climate policy at Green Alliance, urged the government to be more “bold and ambitious” to speed up progress.

She said: “This is a make or break moment for the government’s record on climate change.

“Over the next eight weeks, in the run up to Cop26, the UK public want to see bold and ambitious action to unlock thousands of new jobs in the industries of the future.

“The analysis we’ve published today shows how much the Prime Minister and Chancellor have yet to do.

“The Glasgow Summit will fail without the major emitters such as the US and China making genuine commitments in these final 50 days – and as President, the UK has to lead the way to raise ambition globally.

“Unless the imminent Net Zero Strategy and Comprehensive Spending Review meet the scale of the challenge and opportunity, the UK will be headed into Glasgow with little to show by way of progress on cutting its emissions in this crucial decade.”

Green Alliance is an independent environmental think-tank that publishes its progress report every three to six months on government’s progress towards its long-term climate targets.

It’s report will be launched in Parliament tomorrow (14 September) in an event with Environment Minister Rebecca Pow, Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband, and Green MP Caroline Lucas.

Mr Miliband said: “The biggest threat we now face is not climate denial but climate delay. These startling figures cut through this greenwashing government's rhetoric and expose just how off track they truly are.

"Climate breakdown has already begun and is accelerating across the globe. We still have a choice about the path to which we will commit ourselves and future generations, but the window is closing.

"With the crucial COP26 summit round the corner, the UK needs to lead at home to enable leadership abroad.

“Boris Johnson must get his own house in order, accelerating progress and investment on climate action to recapture UK credibility – or go down in history as the leader that squandered our planet's last best chance to avert catastrophic climate breakdown.”

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