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Ministers 'lagging far behind' in bid to hit 2050 climate change target, warns watchdog

Ministers 'lagging far behind' in bid to hit 2050 climate change target, warns watchdog
3 min read

Ministers must ramp up their efforts if they are to hit a major target to curb climate change by 2050, a government watchdog has warned.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has called on the Government to show it is "serious" in its commitment to reaching net-zero emissions in the next 30 years.

In a report, the group found that ministers had delivered just one of 25 policies needed to ensure emissions targets are on track.

The panel of experts also slammed global warming preparations for homes, businesses and the natural world as “less ambitious” than ten years ago.

It added: “Of 33 key sectors assessed by the Committee, none show good progress when it comes to managing climate change risk.”

CCC adaption committee chair Baroness Brown said: “The UK is not ready for the impacts of climate change, even at the minimum expected level of global warming.

“The Government is not yet addressing adequately all of the climate risks it has itself identified as critical – including from surface water flooding and the impacts of high temperatures on health.

“As the UK prepares to host next year’s global climate summit, the Government has a window to demonstrate its commitment to addressing these responsibilities.

“Citizens, homes, workplaces and critical infrastructure must be prepared for a future with unavoidable climate impacts. The effects of climate change are already being felt in the UK.”

The group demanded a net-zero policy to be embedded across all Government departments and said that policies to reduce emissions should be business friendly.

They also suggested rewarding farmers for improving the natural environment and setting targets to cut the average person’s water consumption from 140 litres to 100 litres per day.

The committee added that the public must be “fully engaged” with the net-zero transition, as more than half of the cuts required will depend on people doing things differently.

CCC chairman Lord Deben added: “The UK is the first major economy to set a net-zero emissions target and intends to host the world’s leaders at next year’s landmark climate conference (COP26).

“These are historic steps forward and position the UK at the forefront of the global low-carbon transition.

“But international ambition does not deliver domestic action. It’s time for the Government to show it takes its responsibilities seriously.

“Reducing emissions to net zero by 2050, requires real action by Government now.”


Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee chair Rachel Reeves said the Government's commitment to net-zero emissions is "meaningless" if it is not matched with concrete action and that the Government has "failed dismally" to back up its rhetoric with amibitious policies.

She added: "Getting to net-zero requires will require action across all parts of Government and our economy.

"Yet, in areas such as electric vehicles, carbon capture and storage, and renewable energy, we have seen the Government has been too lacking in the ambition and political will to deliver the concrete policies necessary to make an impact."

Greenpeace's chief scientist Doug Parr also said the report was a "brutal reality check" on the Government's current progress.

A Government spokesperson said: “As the CCC recognises, we are the first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions, have cleaned up our power sector, cut emissions faster than any G7 country while growing the economy, championed adaptation and set a strong example for other countries to follow. 

“We know there is more to do and legislating for net zero will help to drive further action.

"We’ll set out plans in the coming months to tackle emissions from aviation, heat, energy, agriculture and transport as well further measures to protect the environment from extreme weather including flood protection and nature restoration.”

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