CCC says net zero policy announcements make it less likely targets can be reached

Thu 12 October 2023 View all news

The Climate Change Committee says that recent Government statements make "meeting future targets harder through both the direct impacts of reduced policy ambition and through the Government’s indication that it will loosen certain Net Zero policies."

Professor Piers Forster, Chair of the Climate Change Committee, said: “In June, the Climate Change Committee expressed concerns to Parliament about the pace of change required to meet the UK’s climate goals over the 2030s. Since then, there have been important climate announcements from Government, including the Prime Minister’s speech on 20 September. As promised, we have run the numbers.

“We welcome tangible positive policy progress in some key areas, most notably with the implementation of the new Zero Emission Vehicles mandate and the recent deal with Tata Steel for industrial electrification in Port Talbot. But the Prime Minister has also relaxed important policies to decarbonise buildings and transport and sent a message to business and the international audience that he will allow more time for the UK to transition to key clean technologies. These steps have countered the positive progress of other announcements."

The CCC says that it "remains concerned about the likelihood of achieving the UK’s future targets, especially the substantial policy gap to the UK’s 2030 goal". 

Forster also comments that: "Recent policy announcements were not accompanied by estimates of their effect on future emissions, nor evidence to back the Government’s assurance that the UK’s targets will still be met. We urge the Government to adopt greater transparency in updating its analysis at the time of major announcements".

He adds: “Our position as a global leader on climate has come under renewed scrutiny following the Prime Minister’s speech. We urge the Government to restate strong British leadership on climate change in the crucial period before the next climate summit, COP28 in Dubai.”

The Committee says that delaying the pure fossil car phase-out date to 2035 is expected to have only a small direct impact on future emissions, due to the now-confirmed ZEV Mandate, which will ensure that 80% of new cars sold by 2030 will be zero emission at the tailpipe. However, there may be other indirect consequences, through the uncertainty that has been introduced by changing near-term consumer targets. The risk is that the public and automotive companies perceive a weakening of Government commitment to the electric vehicle transition, which could undermine consumer confidence and/or jeopardise some inward investment relating to EV manufacturing.

The Committee adds that there are likely to be broader implications from the Government’s new messaging around Net Zero and the framing of the PM’s announcements as a loosening of near-term ambition. This risks undermining consumer confidence and the development of UK supply chains, which are particularly important for delivery of buildings decarbonisation. 

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