The chair of the influential BEIS Select Committee in Westminster has raised alarm bells over a key report on Government’s progress to net zero, deeming it “dire”, and “catastrophic for the country and the planet” if not acted on.
The independent Climate Change Committee (CCC)’s latest report revealed that Downing Street’s current strategy will not reach net zero carbon emissions over the coming three decades.
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee Chair Darren Jones said the report is “scathing” about delivery of commitments.
He suggested the report is a “warning against complacency”.
In particular, he highlighted its data on the lack of insulation across the UK’s housing stock, as well as an absence of coherent strategies to decarbonise people’s homes.
The report revealed a “shocking gap in policy” for better insulated homes, citing previous promises of significant public spending and a commitment to new policies last year – but neither of which happening.
It said: “Given soaring energy bills, there is a shocking gap in policy for better insulated homes. Government promised significant public spending in 2019 and committed to new policies last year, neither has yet occurred. The UK continues to have some of the leakiest homes in Europe and installations of insulation remain at rock bottom.”
CCC noted the average annual energy bill for UK households is around £40 higher than if insulation rates from pre-2012 had continued for the last decade.
Jones explained that his own committee questioned the lack of insulation in British homes, as well as an absence of coherent strategies to decarbonise heat in homes.
He said: “A failed scheme to incentivise insulation is yet to be replaced and despite seeking an update we heard no assurances from the Business Secretary in our session on Tuesday that any new scheme would be announced soon and properly funded.”
Meanwhile, the CCC reported some progress in cutting UK emissions in the previous decades, which are now almost half (47 per cent) of their 1990 levels – but that the Government needed to go further to minimise emissions.
It also applauded the Government for setting ambitious targets in its 600-page assessment, it said there was scant evidence of delivery against headline goals, warning that the probability of under-delivery was high.
The report said: “Further progress must be led by Government policies with clear direction, credible delivery mechanisms and suitable incentives to shape private sector action. In no sector of the economy is this yet complete.”
Overall, the report makes over 300 recommendations for filling out policies over the next year, reflecting the scale of the task at hand.
It described the Government’s strategy as a high-wire approach to net zero, and that for the UK’s climate lead to be effective, the world must have confidence the country we will its promises and have a clear programme to achieve its commitments.
CCC Chairman, Lord Deben, said: “The UK is a champion in setting new climate goals, now we must be world-beaters in delivering them. In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, the country is crying out to end its dependence on expensive fossil fuels.”