Committee on Climate Change writes to Prime Minister

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COMMITTEE on Climate Change has written a letter to the new Prime Minister, urging him to speed up UK’s adaptation to climate change and the delivery of Net Zero targets.

In their letter to Mr Johnson, the committee writes: “Your strong parliamentary majority will permit confident decisions on the climate challenges now before us. We urge you to seize that opportunity.

“UK efforts to address the climate crisis have so far fallen short. This story needn’t continue.

“With the commitment of the full Cabinet to tackling the causes and effects of climate change, the UK can lead in addressing the defining global challenge of our age.

“In this Parliament, the UK must get on track to delivering Net Zero emissions, and adapt to the climate-related changes we are experiencing.

“We have a unique opportunity to define the 2020s as the decade of delivery against legally-binding targets set by Parliament – meeting the ambitions of the Conservative election manifesto.”

The committee welcomes a decision to form a cross-Cabinet Climate Committee made earlier this year, making suggestions of goals for the committee, including ensuring that all departments are prioritising adaptation to climate change and ensuring that the Treasury’s Net Zero funding review identifies ways ‘fully and fairly’ to pay for the transition.

Priority actions

Alongside improved climate governance, the letter highlights five key priorities for Government on cutting UK emissions:

  • Buildings. An ambitious and properly funded strategy for entirely removing fossil fuels from the UK’s building stock, with action beginning immediately and standards that set a clear path for the longer-term.
  • Transport. Rapid progress in the implementation of the manifesto commitment to consult on an earlier phase-out of petrol and diesel cars, ideally by 2030.
  • Electricity. Delivering on the manifesto commitment for 40GW of offshore wind by 2030 – and ensuring that any market reforms are complementary to the Net Zero goal.
  • Industry. Developing an ongoing mechanism to pay for emissions reductions from industry and an approach to delivering hydrogen and CCS infrastructure, alongside your promised capital support.
  • Land use and agriculture. Introducing a world-leading package through the Agriculture and Environment Bills to cut emissions from agriculture and to pay for the 30,000 hectares (75,000 acres) of annual tree planting promised in the manifesto.

The committee’s recent assessment of UK action to adapt to climate change concluded that the UK is worryingly unprepared for the changes ahead.

According to Committee on Climate Change, the Government can act to:

  1. Reduce flood risk. Delivering on the manifesto commitment to increase flood defence spending by £4 billion, but also enabling 200,000 properties that cannot be protected by defences to install property-level flood barriers.
  2. Manage the risks from extreme heat. There is no policy to ensure the risk of overheating is reduced in homes, hospitals, schools or care homes. Building Regulations need to be strengthened to make sure adequate natural cooling (not air-conditioning) is built into properties, alongside energy efficiency.
  3. Reduce the risk of drought. Without further action, water deficits, which are currently negligible, could exceed 3 billion litres per day in the 2050s in England. Water consumption per person needs to fall by 30% to manage this, and supplies need to increase urgently.
  4. Protect the natural environment. Climate change will exacerbate biodiversity loss in the UK and globally. Delivering on manifesto commitments to create a Nature Climate Fund, increase tree planting and restore peatland will help to improve resilience and reduce emissions from land.