CCC tells Johnson to seize opportunity on climate challenge

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has warned Boris Johnson that the UK “must” get on track to delivering net zero emissions in this Parliament.

On 18 December, CCC Chair, Lord Deben, and Chair of the CCC’s Adaptation Committee, Baroness Brown, wrote to the Prime Minister (PM), telling him that in light of his strong parliamentary majority, he should seize the opportunity to make confident decisions on the climate challenges facing the UK. Outlining how 2019 had established broad public, business and political support for action, the letter called for 2020 to be a year of renewed policy implementation in response.

The CCC welcomed Johnson committing to chair a cross-Cabinet Committee on climate change and set out that such a committee would be able to lead the government’s strategy to reducing emissions. It also outlined how such a committee could ensure all departments are prioritising action to adapt to climate change; inject new urgency into the development of and implementation of policy; and use all tools available, with strong market-shaping mechanisms as important as public spending.

Alongside improved climate governance, the CCC set out five priority actions for government on cutting UK emissions, including rapid progress on implementing the Conservative manifesto commitment of consulting on an earlier phase-out of petrol and diesel cars, ideally by 2030, as well as its delivering the manifesto pledge of 40GW offshore wind by 2030. It added that any market reforms should be complementary to the net zero target.

Elsewhere, the CCC stressed the need for an ambitious and properly funded strategy for entirely removing fossil fuels from the UK’s building stock, with action needing to begin immediately and include standards that set a clear path for the longer-term. The letter also told the PM that development of an ongoing mechanism to pay for emissions reductions from industry should be prioritised, as well as an approach to delivering hydrogen and carbon capture and storage infrastructure. The Agriculture and Environment Bills was noted as providing an opportunity to introduce a world-leading package to cut emissions from agriculture and pay for the 30,000 hectares of annual tree planting promised in the manifesto. The CCC will provide specific policy recommendations on this in January.