The government’s long awaited strategy for meeting the UK’s carbon budgets currently “sits in a holding pattern” following the announcement of a general election in June, according to climate change minister Nick Hurd.
Speaking this morning to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) select committee, Hurd revealed that due to Theresa May’s surprise statement yesterday the government must now take a view “in short order” about what to publish before the 8 June vote.
The minister was unable to provide any clarity over when the Clean Growth Plan (CGP), as it will now be called, will be published.
However, he added that work is still underway to complete the CGP, claiming its development had proved to be a “fantastically complex and challenging process" to coordinate across government.
He added that the difficulties of doing so “at a time of significant unknowns”, in reference to Brexit and now the general election, meant that a timeline could not be revealed for the plan, saying only that it is “well advanced” and that discussions across government remain highly active.
In response, BEIS select committee chair Iain Wright, who announced this morning that he would not be standing for re-election to his Hartlepool seat, claimed that criticism of the government regarding its commitment to climate change could be reinforced if the plan is not published soon.
“If the CGP is not issued this side of the general election, that sends out a very clear message about the priorities for this government,” he said.
Hurd replied that government actions, most notably legislating for the fifth carbon budget, had shown its commitment to climate action and that this would continue to be proven in the future.
The emissions reduction plan as it had been known was originally due for publication by the end of 2016, a deadline that was then moved by secretary of state Greg Clark, also in attendance at today’s select committee meeting.
He had assured BEIS committee members that it would be out by the end of last month however it appears that, due to the work still underway to complete the plan, this could now be pushed back again to the summer.
This timeline reflects comments made last month by James Heappey MP, a former member of the energy and climate change select committee, that he had learned the plan would be published as late as June.