The Committee on Climate Change has warned that the UK is not even on course to meet its existing legally binding targets for 2023 to 2032.
The Committee’s Report on clean growth highlights that urgent Government action is needed to reverse the current policy trend of cut backs and slow progress.
MP’s identifiy ten key areas in which Government policy to support the implementation of low-carbon technology has been delayed, cut back or undermined carbon reductions.
These include that the ‘plug-in grant’ for low-emissions cars was reduced for the lowest-emissions cars in October 2018, and cut completely for other low-emissions cars and that fuel duty has been frozen for nine years in a row, while bus and train fares have been allowed to increase every year over the same period.
The committee recommends the proposed ban on the sales of new ‘conventional’ cars and vans to 2035 at the latest, and ensure that it covers hybrids too.
In the near-term, the Government must reconsider the fiscal incentives for consumers to purchase both new and used vehicle models with lower emissions.
The Government should also work with public services and owners of public land, such as schools and hospitals, to accelerate the deployment of electric vehicle chargepoints, and introduce measures to ensure that chargepoints are interoperable, compatible with a smart energy system, reliable, and provide real-time information on their current functionality.
Although ultra-low emissions vehicles generate very little emissions during use, their manufacture generates substantial emissions.
In the long-term, widespread personal vehicle ownership therefore does not appear to be compatible with significant decarbonisation. The Government should not aim to achieve emissions reductions simply by replacing existing vehicles with lower-emissions versions.
Norman Lamb MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, said:
“Parliament has declared a climate emergency.
The worrying effects of climate change, such as heatwaves, wildfires and flooding are already occurring at an alarming rate and will have a huge impact on future generations.
Throughout our inquiry, it was worrying to hear that although the Government may be ambitious when it comes to reducing carbon emissions, it is not putting the policies in place which are needed to achieve those targets.
We need to see the Government put its words into actions.
The Government’s own projections suggest that the UK is not currently on track to meet its current emission targets, let alone net zero by 2050.
The rate of deployment of several key low-carbon technologies is significantly lower than what is required to meet the Government’s ambitions, and various stakeholders expressed concern at the current and projected rate of progress of the UK’s decarbonisation.
We heard of cut backs in various programmes and slow progress, which are incompatible with the UK’s two upcoming, legally binding, carbon budgets—this is unacceptable.
If Governments across the world fail to act, it will have dire consequences for the environment and generations to come.
The scale of the challenge cannot be underestimated.
This Report clearly highlights ten key areas of concern and we hope the Government listens to our realistic, achievable recommendations on how to make the UK a world leader in cutting carbon emissions once again.”