Government failing to deliver fast enough on climate emergency

24 June 2021

The government’s climate strategies have been “marred by uncertainty and delay”, advisors say.

The government's chief advisers have accused ministers of inaction and “taking a high-stakes gamble” in being able to achieve a new Net Zero Strategy in time for crucial climate emergency talks in November.

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) report says it is “absolutely critical” that the new strategy is published before the COP26 climate summit, with clear policy plans, backed fully by the Treasury.

Former Environment Secretary, Lord Deben, who now chairs the CCC said: “The Government must get real on delivery. Global Britain has to prove that it can lead a global change in how we treat our planet. Get it right and UK action will echo widely. Continue to be slow and timid and the opportunity will slip from our hands. Between now and COP 26 the world will look for delivery, not promises.”

The report says the government has “made historic climate promises” but has yet to deliver firm policies. According to the CCC, the Net Zero Strategy must be accompanied by a commitment to develop a national adaptation plan to build resilience against the imminent climate chaos.

Baroness Brown, Chair of the Adaptation Committee said the UK is “leading in diagnosis but lagging in policy and action” and cannot be put off any longer. “We cannot deliver Net Zero without serious action on adaptation. We need action now, followed by a National Adaptation Programme that must be more ambitious; more comprehensive; and better focussed on implementation than its predecessors, to improve national resilience to climate change.”

Despite UK emissions falling to nearly 50% of their 1990 levels during the 2020 lockdown, meeting Net Zero commitments is still a long way off. The CCC report argues that emissions next year are expected to rebound as the country recovers from the lockdown and that lasting progress in reducing emissions has been narrowly based.

The Government must show it has a positive vision for a well-adapted country, with policies and regulations to address all of the key risks set out in the Climate Change Risk Assessment, the report concludes.