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On the Road to COP26: UK Struggling on Climate Policy

3 min

c. Gerd Altmann, Pixabay.
As we approach COP26 a new think tank report has found the UK is lagging in its schedule of cutting emissions by 2050. Quadrant Smart analyses the reports five main points and what more needs to be done.

Green Alliance, the thinktank behind the Net Zero Policy Tracker report explained that the current plans will deliver less than 25 per cent of the cuts required to achieve climate goals by 2030.

Three key areas in the report were farming, power and waste which all saw smaller improvements than required.

This contradicts with the emission goal set by the government which pledges a reduction of 78% by 2035.

Despite this though, ministers have optimistically stated the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) and net-zero strategy will deliver policies to tackle emissions before November’s COP26 summit.

c. Blende12, Pixabay.

The report stated: “​​Strong policies must now translate climate ambitions into measurable results over the next decade. Our calculations show the UK is a long way off track to meet its 2050 net-zero carbon target.”

An enormous emission gap of 746 MtCO2e leaves the UK behind

Policies in place at the start of this government left an emissions gap of 985 MtCO2e over the fifth carbon budget period (2028-32). Policies and spending announced since will only reduce emissions by 24 per cent, still leaving a significant gap of 746 MtCO2 e.

Farming has only seen a 7% improvement, while power and waste have seen 12% and 15% improvement respectively

Five key action areas that were raised in the report urgently call for the following to be implemented by central government.

  • Reduce the amount of high-carbon materials used in the economy, including steel and cement
  • Produce farm subsidy policies that will help capture carbon
  • Improve transport further by setting out a legal framework for the transition into EVs
  • Prevent the expansion of airports across the UK
  • Produce a heat and buildings strategy to improve housing in the UK
c. Michel Moalem, Pixabay.

The cost of the net-zero transitions between 2020 and 2050 could be as little as 0.4 per cent of GDP annually

There are increasing concerns from some MPs and parts of the Treasury over the cost of net-zero. This is emphasised as we face a further delay to the release of the Treasury’s Net Zero Review, which will set out the department’s approach to the question of funding and costs.

According to the Office for Budget Responsibility, in an ‘early action’ scenario the cost of the net-zero transitions between 2020 and 2050 could be as little as 0.4 per cent of GDP annually. These costs increase significantly in scenarios where climate action is delayed or abandoned.

In response to the climate concerns addressed in the net-zero tracker report and the recent IPCC report, the government explained:

“Since January 2020, the government has pledged new funding of £37.8 billion for climate (£31.6 billion) and nature (£6.2 billion) over the course of this parliament, including funding for hydrogen development, carbon capture and storage, active travel, greener buildings and natural environmental restoration projects.”


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