The government is failing to enact the policies needed to reach the UK’s net zero targets, its statutory advisers have said, in a damning progress report to parliament.
The Climate Change Committee (CCC) voiced fears that ministers may renege on the legally binding commitment to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, noting “major policy failures” and “scant evidence of delivery”.
Lord Deben, the chair of the committee and a former Conservative environment secretary, said the government had set strong targets on cutting emissions but policy to achieve them was lacking. “The government has willed the ends, but not the means,” he said. “This report showed that present plans will not fulfil the commitments [to net zero].”
He said net zero policies were also the best way to reduce the soaring cost of living. Average household bills would be about £125 lower today if previous plans on green energy and energy efficiency had been followed through. “If you want to deal with the cost of living crisis, this is exactly what you need to do,” he said.
The greatest failure was the insulation policy. Britain’s homes are the draughtiest in western Europe, heating costs are crippling household budgets, and heating is one of the biggest single sources of carbon emissions, but the government has no plans to help most people insulate their homes.
Energy efficient homes could be an easy win, but we’re ignoring it
There are currently no credible plans to help the majority of households to improve their energy efficiency, the progress report from the Committee on Climate Change concludes: a gaping policy hole that is costing the UK dear, not just in climate terms but in unnecessarily high energy bills for our leaky homes. Insulating buildings would be the quickest and most effective way to counter soaring gas prices, but has been largely ignored by the government after the botched “green homes grant” was scrapped last year. Even our new homes are not efficient: at least 1.5m homes have been built in recent years that will require expensive retrofitting. “It’s a complete tale of woe,” said Chris Stark, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change.