Government facing net-zero policy shortfall, committee warns

The Science and Technology Committee chaired by local MP Sir Norman Lamb, has warned the government that its 2050 target of net-zero is undeliverable, unless new clean growth policies are introduced.

On 22 August, it published a report on the government’s clean growth strategy, in which it listed 10 key areas of shortfall where government policies to support the implementation of low-carbon technology have either been delayed, cut back or undermine carbon reductions. Concern was expressed over the plug-in grant for low-emissions cars being reduced for the lowest emissions cars in October 2018, as well as being cut completely for other low-emission vehicles; the closure of the feed-in-tariff for low-carbon power generation; and lack of clarity on government policy on energy efficiency.

Further areas of shortfall cited were the exclusion of onshore wind and large-scale solar power from the financial support mechanism available to other renewable power technologies since 2017 and the government’s white paper on the future of the energy market still not being published – despite it having been slated for release in early 2019.

The committee made a series of recommendations to rectify these policy delays and reversals, such as a strategy for decarbonising heat; an incentive scheme for energy efficiency home improvements; a plan for reducing vehicle emissions; support for onshore wind and solar power; and a review of the Smart Export Guarantee. It also called on government to sustain nuclear power without growing the industry; to launch a consultation to inform the development of a future framework for managing and incentivising greenhouse gas removal on the scale required for net-zero emissions; clear action on carbon capture, usage and storage; clean growth regulation of the energy market; and support for local authorities in contributing to the UK’s net zero target.

Sir Norman Lamb said: “Throughout our inquiry, it was worrying to hear that although the Government may be ambitious when it comes to reducing carbon emissions, it is not putting the policies in place which are needed to achieve those targets. We need to see the Government put its words into actions.”