Government set to publish net zero review in early 2023

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s commitment to tackling climate change could face scrutiny early in the new year with the publication of a review into the UK’s target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has said the review, carried out by departing Tory MP Chris Skidmore, will be published in the new year.

Mr Skidmore was asked to consider how the country could deliver “maximum economic growth and investment” alongside the Government’s climate change ambitions, while also considering the need for energy security and the costs for the public.

A Government spokesperson said it remained “absolutely committed to net zero, but with Russia weaponising energy across Europe, we must make sure we reach our target in a way that protects energy security and does not place undue burdens on businesses or consumers”.

Universities UK Conference 2019
Tory MP Chris Skidmore carried out the net zero review (Joe Giddens/PA)

“We thank Chris Skidmore MP for his efforts in producing this rapid review and will publish it in the new year.”

Shortly after taking office Mr Sunak travelled to Egypt for Cop27, despite Downing Street indicating that he was not planning to attend.

While there, the Prime Minister told world leaders and delegates it was morally right to deliver on promises on tackling climate change – but also economically right, reducing energy dependency and providing new jobs and growth.

But in December Mr Sunak faced serious criticism from environmentalists, after the Government gave the go-ahead for a new coal mine in Whitehaven in Cumbria, the first of its kind for 30 years.

At the time, Communities Secretary Michael Gove insisted the scheme would be a net zero emissions project, even as experts warned that it sent the wrong signal to industry about climate commitments to cutting emissions to zero overall.

Mr Skidmore is one of several high-profile Tory MPs not running again for Parliament.

Announcing his decision to leave the Commons, the MP said he wanted to play his “own small part” in the UK’s shift to net zero.