The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), in its “Reducing UK emissions: 2020 Progress Report to Parliament”, has assessed UK progress in reducing emissions over the past year and recommends that Ministers seize the opportunity to turn the COVID-19 crisis into a defining moment in the fight against climate change.
Lord Deben - Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC)
Although a limited number of steps have been taken over the past year to support the transition to a net-zero economy and improve the UK’s resilience to the impacts of climate change, much remains to be done, the report concludes. For the first time, the Committee sets out its recommendations government department by government department.
The Committee’s new analysis expands on its May 2020 advice to the UK Prime Minister in which it set out the principles for building a resilient recovery. In its new report, the Committee has assessed a wide set of measures and gathered the latest evidence on the role of climate policies in the economic recovery. Its report highlights five clear investment priorities in the months ahead:
Low-carbon retrofits and buildings that are fit for the future
Tree planting, peatland restoration, and green infrastructure
Energy networks must be strengthened
Infrastructure to make it easy for people to walk, cycle, and work remotely
Moving towards a circular economy.
There are also opportunities to support the transition and the recovery by investing in the UK’s workforce, and in lower-carbon behaviours and innovation:
Reskilling and retraining programmes
Leading a move towards positive behaviours
Targeted science and innovation funding
“The UK is facing its biggest economic shock for a generation” said Lord Deben, CCC Chairman. “Meanwhile, the global crisis of climate change is accelerating. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address these urgent challenges together; it’s there for the taking. The steps that the UK takes to rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic can accelerate the transition to a successful and low-carbon economy and improve our climate resilience. Choices that lock in emissions or climate risks are unacceptable.”
Achieving the UK’s climate goals and rebuilding the economy fit naturally together the CCC believes. Each makes the other possible. Success demands that the country does both. The CCC said that the actions it has recommended in this review will deliver an improved economy, better public health, improved biodiversity and access to nature, cleaner air, more comfortable homes and highly productive and rewarding employment.
“We welcome the Committee’s recognition of the valuable contribution that onshore renewables can make to a green recovery; driving decarbonisation, deploying high quality jobs, and delivering significant economic growth” added Chris Hewett, Chief Executive of the Solar Trade Association (STA). “The Committee rightly points out that other forms of generation are more carbon intensive and expensive too. If we are to emerge from this crisis with a renewed economy that is geared towards net zero, the UK needs to rapidly shift to low cost, reliable, and job-intensive technologies like solar.”
Last week the STA announced it was calling for the Government to commit to a target of 40 GW of solar capacity by 2030, and has published a new policy paper which outlines how this can be achieved, and contribute to the green recovery.