Ministers 'on track' to miss climate change targets, official advisers warn
The UK could fail to hit legally binding emissions targets if it does not take "urgent action", the Government's official advisers have warned.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) urged the Government to "learn the lessons" of the past decade if it wanted to hit greenhouse gas reduction targets which it set itself for the 2020s and 2030s.
A new report from the group welcomed the "remarkable success" of successive governments in reducing emissions by 43% since 1990, but warned that reductions had stalled in the past five years.
It said that rapid changes in the electricity sector had "propped up" emissions reductions, masking a "worrying trend" of Government inaction in other sectors.
CCC chair Lord Deben - a former Conservative minister - urged ministers to "step beyond the well-trodden path" and look at every sector of the economy.
"Although the UK seeks to lead the world in tackling climate change, the fact is that we’re off track to meet our own emissions targets in the 2020s and 2030s," he said.
"We now have to ensure that the Government learns from this experience and presents a programme to tackle emissions right across the economy."
He added: "This action is now urgent in order to meet the UK’s legally-binding climate change targets, and to prepare to fulfil the obligations of the Paris Agreement."
Ministers are expected to respond to the CCC report in the Autumn, but have already said they recognise the challenge of cutting emissions in sectors such as transport, heat and business energy.
A Government spokesperson said: "It’s been 10 years since the Climate Change Act and we’ve proven ourselves to be world-leaders in tackling climate change in that time – cutting emissions faster than any other G7 country since 1990 and producing low levels of low carbon energy.
"As the Committee on Climate Change has recognised, we’ve made huge progress in cleaning up the power and waste sectors and through our ambitious Clean Growth Strategy we’re confident of cutting emissions across the wider economy to meet our carbon budgets while seizing the economic opportunities of clean growth."
But Labour said the environment could not afford to wait for a Jeremy Corbyn-led government to "sort this mess out".
"Today’s report shows how the Tories are failing to meet our climate change commitments and how they have made little to no progress in the six months since the last report," Shadow Energy Minister Alan Whitehead said.
"The Committee on Climate Change have outlined more explicitly than ever what actions the Tories must now take to tackle climate change and for the sake of future generations, this report and its recommendation cannot fall on deaf ears.
He added: "Just this week the Government scrapped support for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon whilst supporting a third runway at Heathrow which shows how empty their green rhetoric is.
"Our climate cannot wait for the next Labour government to come in and sort this mess out. Ministers must take immediate action before these crucial climate targets become completely unreachable."