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Committee on Climate Change says action needed urgently to 'close policy gap'

Thu 29 June 2017 | Back to news list

In a new report the Committee on Climate Change has called on the Government to urgently publish the delayed Clean Growth Plan which will set out how it proposes to meet its 2030 climate targets under the Climate Change Act. While UK emissions have fallen by 42 percent since 1990, successes have largely been confined to the power sector, while those from the country's building stock and transport are rising, the CCC said.
The Committee says that the UK’s transition to a resilient, low-carbon economy is in danger of being derailed by a lack of Government action and that inaction is making it difficult for businesses and the UK public to grasp the opportunities of the transition.
While emissions have fallen since 1990, GDP has increased by more than 65% over the same period and total household energy bills have fallen compared to 2008 when the Climate Change Act was passed.
Despite good earlier progress, emissions reductions have been largely confined to the power sector, whilst those from transport and the UK’s building stock have been rising and the overall state of Britain's natural environment is worsening, reducing its resilience to climate change. The Committee says that recent storms show that national infrastructure remains vulnerable to severe weather. Ten years after the 2007 floods important lessons remain, it says, and the risks of surface water flooding in our towns and cities have still not been tackled.
Effective new strategies and new policies are urgently needed to ensure emissions continue to fall in line with the commitments agreed by Parliament (by at least 50% by 2025 and 57% by 2030 on 1990 levels).
The findings are part of the Committee’s statutory 2017 Report to Parliament. The report sets out the CCC’s latest independent assessment of UK action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to prepare for the impacts of climate change.
In particular, the CCC recommends that the Government:
  • Urgently delivers a plan to continue reducing emissions across the economy. It is no longer justified or wise to delay the publication of the emissions reduction plan required by law. The plan must address the gap between Parliament’s agreed targets and the impact of existing policies, including: plans to bring forward additional low-carbon electricity generation through the 2020s; accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles; provide a path for the uptake of low-carbon heat and set out a strategy for deploying carbon capture and storage technology.
  • Strengthens the UK’s National Adaptation Programme (NAP) in the first half of 2018. The new programme, which drives action to prepare for climate change impacts, must address priority areas: flood risks to homes and businesses, risks to the natural environment, including to soils and biodiversity, and risks to human health and wellbeing from higher temperatures. The next NAP must be more ambitious, with policies that make a measurable difference and with clearer mechanisms to track progress.

The Committee Chairman, Lord Deben, said: “The impact of climate change on our lives and those of our children is clearer than ever. The UK has shown global leadership on climate change, but progress will stall at home without urgent further action. New plans, for a new Parliament, are needed as a matter of urgency to meet our legal commitments, grasp the opportunities offered by the global low-carbon transition, and protect people, businesses and the environment from the impacts of a changing climate.”

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