By Susanna Twidale
LONDON – Britain’s plans to meet its climate target of net zero emissions by 2050 will not deliver the changes needed to meet the goal, the country’s climate advisers said in a progress report on Wednesday.
Britain in 2019 became the first member of the Group of Seven wealthy nations to set a net zero target, which will require wholesale changes in the way Britons travel, eat and use electricity. Last year, it set out its strategy for how to meet the goal.
“Policies are now in place for most sectors of the economy, but a thorough review of progress finds scant evidence of delivery against these headline goals so far,” the Climate Change Committee (CCC) said.
The report said many of the measures to meet the net zero target, such as increasing renewable electricity production, would also help the government achieve its aims of curbing soaring energy costs and of reducing its reliance on imported Russian fossil fuels following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Widespread concern about consumers’ exposure to high fossil fuel prices has created a window to encourage even faster decarbonisation,” the report said.
A cap on household energy bills rose more than 50% in April, largely due to soaring wholesale global gas prices.
The CCC report made over 300 recommendations to government including launching new policies to encourage energy efficient homes, a decarbonisation strategy for the agricultural sector and a plan to fully decarbonise the electricity sector by 2035.
Earlier this month, Britain said EDF had agreed to keep its West Burton coal-fired power station online over winter to bolster the country’s power supply in response to further possible disruption to Russian gas supply to Europe.
Although coal emits twice the amount of carbon dioxide as gas plants when generating electricity, John Gummer, chair of the CCC, said he understood the decision given the wider concerns over energy supply.
“In those circumstances the government has to make sure that we keep the lights on,” he told journalists during a briefing.