Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stressed that there is “no time to waste” in tackling climate change despite continued reports of delays to the energy white paper.
Speaking to mark a year until COP26, Johnson said that climate change will “remain the most enduring threat to the futures of our children and grandchildren – and the world we’re fighting for – if we do not act”.
“We are one year out from hosting the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, bringing countries together to agree bold action to confront global warming.”
COP26 was originally set to occur in November 2020, however it was pushed back to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not the only thing to be delayed this year, with the government’s long-awaited energy white paper having experienced several delays.
It was originally due for publication in the summer of 2019, before being pushed back to Q1 2020 by then-energy secretary Andrea Leadsom. In February 2020, junior energy minister Lord Duncan told the House of Lords that the white paper would be published in “a matter of weeks”. When this proved to not be the case, a BEIS spokesperson told Current± that the white paper would be published in spring 2020 despite the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic.
This was once again pushed back, with energy secretary Alok Sharma stating it would “hopefully” be published in the autumn and Kwasi Kwarteng, minister for business, energy and clean growth, later confirming it would be published in the autumn.
It is now being reported by Bloomberg that the energy white paper is to be pushed back until after the Treasury’s spending review on 25 November. When asked about this by Current±, a BEIS spokesperson reiterated the government’s intention to release the white paper in the autumn.
Johnson has, however, outlined how he will be setting out a ten-point plan “shortly” that is to “not only create thousands of British jobs, but also invigorate our plans to achieve net zero by 2050”.
This plan is to detail the government’s commitments to a green recovery, with a focus on building back better. Already, £160 million has been pledged to help fund the government’s 40GW by 2030 offshore wind commitment, which is the first part of this plan.
As a result, Johnson is calling on world leaders to “put forward their own ambitious commitments to help eradicate our contributions to climate change, before we meet in Scotland next November.”
This was welcomed by the Energy Networks Association’s chief executive David Smith, who said that making “ambitious commitments and robust policy frameworks now can help create jobs, cut emissions and deliver the low carbon, low cost energy system the public need and want”.
“The UK’s energy networks stand ready to help deliver this vision but we must overturn existing barriers and act now to turn the challenges around decarbonisation into new opportunities for the UK to lead the world.”