“No government plan for net zero, two years on” – MPs

The UK Government “lacks a plan” on how to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions, despite setting the target in law almost two years ago, a committee of MPs argued today.

Chris Skidmore signing the net zero legislation on 27 June 2019

A report from the Public Accounts Committee said there was no coordinated strategy with clear milestones for achieving the target by 2050.

It said:

  • Government departments were not sufficiently considering the impact of net zero on projects and programmes
  • Treasury guidance to departments to put more emphasis on environmental impacts had not shown how this would work in practice
  • Government wasn’t checking that activities to reduce the UK’s carbon footprint were not transferring emissions overseas
  • Up to 62% of emissions cuts would rely on individual choices but ministers have not yet engaged with the public on the substantial behaviour changes that will be needed
  • Ministers should work more with local authorities and give them adequate resources

Meg Hillier MP, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said the world would be watching the UK when it hosted the UN COP26 climate conference in November:

“Government has set itself a huge test in committing the UK to a net zero economy by 2050 – but there is little sign that it understands how to get there and almost two years later it still has no plan.

“Our response to climate change must be as joined up and integrated as the ecosystems we are trying to protect.

“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.

“COP26 is a few months away; the eyes of the world, its scientists and policymakers are on the UK – big promises full of fine words won’t stand up.”


The committee’s recommendations included:

Key strategies. The government should publish key strategies by September 2021 for achieving net zero. There should be a timeline of key milestones and decision points. The government currently plans to launch the net zero strategy before COP 26. This would be nearly two-and-a-half years after parliament approved the net zero plans.

Measures on progress. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which is responsible for achieving net zero, should publish measures to chart progress. These should include reporting from the end of 2021 on progress of emissions levels, compared to expectations, within each sector.  

Treasury guidance. The Treasury should set out, within two months, how its guidance will lead to departments adequately considering and reporting the impact of policy decisions on net zero. The report also calls for information on what measures will be included in the Green Book to ensure projects are approved only if they align with the 2050 net zero target.

Exporting emissions. BEIS should review how policies aimed at reducing UK-based emissions take into account the risk that emissions are passed to other countries. The department should also explore how to make the level of emissions in manufacture of imported goods are made more transparent.

Communication of lifestyle changes. Within the next 12 months, BEIS should develop a public engagement strategy on how government communications about individual behaviour change would be coordinated.

Local authorities’ role. Government should be clear about its responsibilities and those of local authorities. It should be clear about government proposes to work with local authorities to secure the funding, skills, resources and outcomes required for net zero.

16 replies »

  1. Oh, I kept to the point, 1720. It is yourself who finds your own point rather awkward and try and state you answered that adequately. Well, you didn’t, and the record is there to view.

    You may feel I am wrong, and that “many” will act differently. But, the evidence is against that assumption. Remember the gilets jaunes? Their response was “the elites can focus on the end of the world, while we’re worrying about the end of the month.” So, policy reversed. And, no different in Australia where Labor thought many would support their environmental stance but the many did not, they supported jobs, and Labor lost. And, you can look at research in many other countries that warns of the same, regarding thoughts about items such as carbon taxes. Keep ignoring that and the same result will happen, especially when the many see the few campaigning against local sourcing, providing totally conflicting evidence, and some would term it hypocrisy.

    Yes, I can control where HMG spends my money. I have a vote to help, and if that does not supply the result I want there are many ways to mitigate against what I might feel is wasteful spending of my money, including my pensions. So, I have no interest in you deciding how my money is spent as there is plenty of greed in some of the Green proposals. Green greed is there for all to see, I don’t think it is inspired or educated. Was cash for ash inspired or educated? Was £150k PROFIT guaranteed per year per wind turbine inspired or educated? (Some landowners decided it was, but the rest of us paid the bill.)

    Maybe that is why there is only one Green MP in Westminster? The many certainly did not buy in in France or in Australia, so perhaps there is a lesson there-and it is not blocking the papers being printed that do not carry the correct messaging, or arguing about what colour hydrogen should be, driving to protests in their diesels, or fake arguments about fossil fuel subsidies. There are more things to your proposals that will alienate the many rather than convince them, so my powers of argument have plenty of enrichment from the anti dogma-which could even be the name of a Green fertilizer!
    What might actually convince the many is some common sense actions that do not cost massive amounts that are then seen to work, (like local sourcing which the UN has recommended, or even HS2) and can lead to a next stage. But, there have already been many non sensical actions which the many remember, so quite a difficult situation to reverse, and much more care needs to be applied otherwise no chance of reversal. But, that will not be radical enough for some, and it will only be themselves to blame for the reaction.

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