The next year must be a year of “renewed policy implementation” after UK decarbonisation efforts have “so far fallen short”, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has warned.
CCC chairman Lord Deben and chair of the Adaption Committee of the CCC Baroness Brown have written to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, requesting a meeting and urging him to seize the opportunity of his parliamentary majority to deliver on climate policies.
Net zero requires strong leadership at the heart of the government and a programme of change at a scale not previously attempted, the letter says.
It points to the political support for action over the past year and welcomes the PM’s commitment to chair a cross-Cabinet Committee on climate change. However, it also stresses that 2020 must be a year of “renewed policy implementation” with action from the new Cabinet Committee.
The Cabinet Committee should lead the government’s strategy to reduce emissions, demanding ambitious policy from all departments. It should ensure all departments are prioritising action to adapt to climate change and inject new urgency into the development and implementation of policy.
“It has been nearly seven months since the Net Zero target became law. Every day of inaction makes the challenge of cutting emissions harder and costlier,” the letter reads.
“Technological innovation is only part of the answer. We must not wait for future technologies to solve the problems we can already tackle with known solutions.”
The Cabinet Committee should use all of the tools available, including both public spending and market shaping mechanisms. This includes carbon pricing fiscal policies as well as regulatory tools that can “often drive the transition more rapidly” than price mechanisms.
This echoes a previous letter penned by the CCC, outlining how carbon pricing alone will not provide sufficient decarbonisation, with a need for a whole suite of policies required.
In this latest letter, Lord Deben and Baroness Brown say the Treasury’s net zero funding review must identify ways to pay for the transition fully and fairly, and put net zero at the heart of the UK’s economic strategy. Lastly, the Cabinet Committee should oversee effective collaboration between central, devolved and local government bodies.
The letter then goes on to outline the priority areas for cutting UK emissions, including the need for “rapid progress” in the implementation of the pledge in the Conservative manifesto to consult on an earlier phase-out of petrol and diesel cars.
The CCC has repeatedly recommended an earlier date for the phase out, and is now suggesting it “ideally” happen by 2030.
The commitment for delivering 40GW of wind power by 2030 is also a priority and the development of an ongoing mechanism to pay for emissions reductions from industry and an approach to delivering hydrogen and CCS infrastructure alongside promised capital support.
The letter concludes by mentioning a speech given to the UN General Assembly by Margaret Thatcher in 1989 on climate change, which “advocated a strong global response”.
Pointing to the “too little” action that followed, the letter ends:
“You have the opportunity to lead a better international effort. But first, we must get our own house in order.”