Court threat to Government on emissions targets despite new climate change moves
The Government has published its strategy to cut carbon emissions while boosting the economy and keeping bills down.
Boosting home energy efficiency and clean power, driving take-up of electric cars and planting new forests are among measures to tackle climate change set out by the Government.
But ministers could face the threat of legal action over the long-awaited clean growth strategy, which still looks set to fall short of meeting key legal targets to cut carbon emissions, it has been warned.
The strategy, which aims to cut greenhouse gases while boosting the economy and keeping bills down, sets out measures for housing, businesses, transport, agriculture and the power sector, and for making the UK a “world leader” in green finance.
More than £2.5 billion is already being invested in low-carbon measures between 2015 and 2021.
More than a million homes are getting energy-saving upgrades to make them warmer and cheaper to heat through the “energy company obligation”, paid for through consumer bills, and standards on new boilers will be improved.
Ministers also said they wanted all fuel-poor homes to be upgraded to at least a “C” energy performance level by 2030, with as many homes as possible reaching the standard by 2035, which could save an average £270 a year on household bills.
The Government has also announced up to £577 million for new renewables projects and support for action to roll out a huge 10 gigawatts of offshore wind power in the 2020s, as well as measures to boost low-carbon heating for buildings.
It is spending £1 billion supporting the take-up of electric cars, developing an electric vehicle charging network and spending £841 million in innovation in low-carbon transport and fuels.
There are also plans to establish a new network of forests and fund larger-scale woodland and forest creation.
Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: “This Government has put clean growth at the heart of its Industrial Strategy to increase productivity, boost people’s earning power and ensure Britain continues to lead the world in efforts to tackle climate change.
“The world is moving from being powered by polluting fossil fuels to clean energy. It’s as big a change as the move from the age of steam to the age of oil and Britain is showing the way.”
There are already more than 430,000 jobs in low-carbon businesses and their supply chains, and the low-carbon economy could grow by 11% a year between 2015 and 2030 – faster than the rest of the economy, the Government said.
But the Government’s advisory Committee on Climate Change (CCC) warned in the summer that “urgent” plans were needed as the move to a low-carbon economy was in danger of being derailed by a lack of action by ministers.
The strategy aims to close the gap on meeting legally-binding targets to cut emissions in the 2020s, which it has been on track to miss, and meet further legal targets by 2032.
But even with new policies and proposals that could be developed from the strategy, the document published by the Government shows the UK is likely to miss its carbon targets for the 2020s and early 2030s.
Environmental law firm ClientEarth, which has taken the Government to court over failures on air pollution, said it was set to miss its emissions reductions target for 2023-2027 by 116 million tonnes – equivalent to the annual emissions of the Philippines.
“Ministers do seem to be trying to make up lost ground with their new strategy, but they have not done enough. ClientEarth will be considering its legal options,” he warned.