Suffolk peer leads calls for urgent Government action on climate change
PUBLISHED: 06:00 29 June 2017
The UK’s move to a low-carbon economy is in danger of being derailed by a lack of Government action, a high-powered committee chaired by a Suffolk peer has warned.
In its annual progress report to Parliament, the Committee on Climate Change - whose chairman is Lord Deben - calls for “urgent” plans to meet legal targets for carbon cuts by 2032. It also wants action to bridge the gap between existing policies and what is needed to achieve required emissions reductions by the mid-2020s.
More ambitious plans were needed to deal with the impacts of climate change, such as increased flooding and heatwaves that were already inevitable, it said. Action was also urgently needed to boost electric vehicles and cut greenhouse gas emissions from the heating of homes to help meet UK climate targets.
Lord Deben - who as John Gummer was Conservative MP for the former Eye constituency and its successor Suffolk Coastal from 1979 to 2010 - is a former Environment Secretary. He has chaired the Government’s independent advisory Committee on Climate Change since 2012.
He said there were economic opportunities in the shift to low-carbon, but unless the UK had a clear path, investors would invest elsewhere. Although prices of renewables and batteries for electric vehicles were falling, he said ministers could not leave things to the market.
“This is all about facing the fact that climate change doesn’t wait,” he said. “We shouldn’t underestimate the power and force of those who are in situ - there are very large forces to try to ensure that what is, continues to be, great investment by people who don’t want change. Government has a responsibility to ensure that change happens.”
Such a move was needed not just to fight climate change but to be competitive in a post-Brexit world, he said. “We’re fighting a battle which has to be won, and has to be won quickly,” he warned.
The committee said overall UK emissions had fallen by about 42% since 1990 but greenhouse gases from transport and buildings were rising.
A Government spokeswoman said UK emissions had been cut by more than one-third while the economy had grown by more than two-thirds. A “burgeoning” low-carbon sector was being supported but the Government recognised more needed to be done.