UK must step up climate action or miss targets, report warns

Greenhouse gas emissions in the UK are on course to be almost 40 per cent higher than the climate target set for 2030, according to a new report from an independent environmental think tank.

Green Alliance has been monitoring the nation’s progress on lowering emissions during the current parliamentary term at Westminster.

In a new report, released today, the charity warns that efforts and investment must be significantly ramped up to achieve the emissions reductions required to hit the 2030 goal and reach net-zero by 2050.

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It says drastic measures are necessary if the UK is to maintain credibility as a world leader in climate action when it plays host to the United Nations climate summit Cop26, which is due to be held in Glasgow this November.

A new report from the Green Alliance independent think tank has found greenhouse gas emissions in the UK are likely to be 40 per cent above 2030 target levels if drastic action is not taken

It warns the UK “risks complacency just as the heavy lifting is needed across the economy” to create green jobs and slash emissions.

The report concludes that annual spending on policies aimed at cutting carbon will need to double from £21.2 billion to £43.6 billion every year from now until 2024 to keep the country on track to meet the critical environmental goals.

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Green Alliance says success achieved in cleaning up the energy industry must now be replicated across the most climate-polluting sectors, including transport and agriculture.

In 1990 the power sector was responsible for 21 per cent of total UK emissions.

The figure now stands at 11 per cent, largely due to closure of coal-fired power stations.

More than half of UK emissions now come from the transport, buildings and agriculture and land use.

According to analysis, measures laid out in the spring budget will cut the projected gap of 118 million tonnes of carbon emissions reductions needed by 2030 by around 26 per cent.

However, a further 87 million tonnes will still need to be removed over the next decade.

The report recommends the government should prioritise five key policy aims to achieve the necessary carbon reductions.

These would focus on: transport, with an extra £8.7 billion to be spent annually on low-carbon vehicles; buildings, including investment of £2.3 billion a year to help decarbonise and upgrade inefficient housing stock; resource extraction and production, with a new aim to halve consumption by 2050; agriculture and land use, with £6.6 billion of additional spending; and the power sector, including a new target to phase out unabated natural gas by 2035.

Chris Venables, head of politics at Green Alliance, said: “When it comes to cutting emissions and rebuilding the economy after Covid the prime minister really can have his cake and eat it.

“The UK has already made great strides on clean energy.

“This success now needs to be replicated by all parts of the economy and all departments of government with the same level of drive.”

Cop26 is considered the most important international climate meeting since the landmark Paris Agreement was set out in 2015, which saw around 200 countries agree to take steps to keep global temperature rise below 2C.

Originally scheduled for November 2020 but delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the meeting will be the first opportunity for nations to come together to review commitments set out in the accord and strengthen ambitions if necessary.

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