The UK’s transition to a resilient, low-carbon economy is in danger of being derailed by a lack of Government action on climate change, the Committee on Climate Change says in a new report today. That inaction is making it difficult for businesses and the UK public to grasp the opportunities of the transition.
Good progress has been made to date but continued progress depends on significant new measures. Greenhouse gas emissions are about 42% lower than in 1990, around half way to the 2050 commitment to reduce emissions by at least 80% on 1990 levels.
As emissions have fallen since 1990, GDP has increased by more than 65% over the same period and total household energy bills have fallen compared to 2008 when the Climate Change Act was passed.
Action has also been taken to address the risks from climate change. There have been important steps to fund and improve river and coastal flood defences and to improve the resilience of energy, transport and water infrastructure to severe weather.
However, progress is stalling. Since 2012, emissions reductions have been largely confined to the power sector, whilst emissions from transport and the UK’s building stock are rising. The overall state of our natural environment is worsening, reducing its resilience to climate change. Recent storms show that national infrastructure remains vulnerable to severe weather. Ten years after the 2007 floods important lessons remain, and the risks of surface water flooding in our towns and cities have still not been tackled.
Effective new strategies and new policies are urgently needed to ensure emissions continue to fall in line with the commitments agreed by Parliament (by at least 50% by 2025 and 57% by 2030 on 1990 levels), and that key risks to homes, businesses, and the natural environment are addressed.
The findings are part of the Committee’s statutory 2017 Report to Parliament. The report sets out the CCC’s latest independent assessment of UK action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to prepare for the impacts of climate change.