Two government committees have hit out at the government over a lack of detail in its climate change plans ahead of this year’s COP26 conference.
In a new report released today, the influential Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said that two years on from fixing its net zero target in law, the government had “no plan” as to how to deliver the pledge.
Meanwhile the BEIS committee have also released a paper raising concerns over the lack of clarity regarding the UK’s ambitions for COP26, which takes place in Glasgow in November.
Although ministers have pledged to set out a number of strategies outlining the steps it will take to eliminate emissions, the PAC report says that there is currently no coordinated strategy to tackle the problem.
It points out that government departments are not yet sufficiently considering the impact on net zero when taking forward projects and programmes, nor are ministers not simply “offshoring emissions” by moving them to other countries.
There has also been a lack of engagement with the public on the changes to lifestyles that such ambitious targets will entail, it added.
PAC chair Meg Hillier said that it was vital that the government presented a “joined up” plan in order to hit the target.
“Our response to climate change must be as joined up and integrated as the ecosystems we are trying to protect”, Hillier said.
“We must see a clear path plotted, with interim goals set and reached – it will not do to dump our emissions on poorer countries to hit UK targets. Our new international trade deals, the levelling up agenda – all must fit in the plan to reach net zero.”
The report comes after a Budget that some critics thought was light on commitments to green technologies.
A new national infrastructure bank and green bond initiative were among headline pledges, as were commitments to invest more into offshore wind, but critical areas like electric vehicles barely got a look in.
In addition, Sunak decided to maintain the freeze on fuel duty for another year – the 11th in a row.
Overnight the BEIS committee also released a paper asking ministers to set out a clear list of COP26 ambitions, with a set of accompanying measures of success.
Darren Jones, chair of the BEIS committee, said: “We have concluded that the current ‘themes’-based approach to COP26 is too broad, without clear measures for success, and that more focus needs to be given to the overriding necessity to agree deliverable policies that keep global temperature rises to as close to 1.5 degrees since 1990 as possible.”
Responding to the reports, a government spokesperson said: “It is nonsense to say the Government does not have a plan when we have been leading the world in tackling climate change, cutting emissions by almost 44 per cent since 1990 and doing so faster than any other developed nation in recent years.
“Only this week in the Budget we built on the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution by encouraging private investment in green growth, and we are bringing forward bold proposals to cut emissions and create new jobs and industries across the whole country.”
And a spokesperson for COP26 said: “COP26 will define the next decade of tackling climate change, with a clear but urgent call to action for all world leaders. They must show how they will reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 with ambitious 2030 targets to get us there. This is critical if we want to keep warming within 1.5 degrees.
“We are making good progress as we build momentum towards COP26 and there is no time to waste. The COP26 President, Alok Sharma, our teams, and the full weight of our diplomatic network are all working tirelessly to push for accelerated action from our partners around the world.”