No plan for Net Zero, no plan for COP26: MPs plea for government clarity on low carbon agenda

The Public Accounts Committee has warned that the government still  lacks a plan for how it will achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050, almost two years after it set the target.  Departments do not consider the impact on Net Zero when taking forward projects and programmes and  government had failed to produce a no coordinated plan with clear milestones, making it difficult for Parliament and the general public to understand or scrutinise how the country is doing.

Although the Treasury has changed its guidance to ensure departments place greater emphasis on the environmental impacts, it  has not set out how this will work in practice.

The PAC pointed out that as much as 62% of the future reduction in emissions will rely on individual choices and behaviours. It warned, “Government has not yet properly engaged with the public on the substantial behaviour changes that achieving Net Zero will require. Local authorities will also play a major role in the move to Net Zero, and government will need to engage more with local authorities about how they can contribute, including ensuring they will have the necessary resources.

Meanwhile, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee also called for more clarity from government, especially around its ambitions for the COP 26 climate summit, in a new report on Net Zero and COP26.

The Committee pointed out that the government had not explained how success will be measured. The report recommends the Government set out a clear list of COP26 ambitions, with a set of accompanying measures of success.

Darren Jones, chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee said:“We have concluded that the current ‘themes’-based approach to COP26 is too broad, without clear measures for success, and that more focus needs to be given to the overriding necessity to agree deliverable policies that keep global temperature rises to as close to 1.5oC since 1990 as possible.”

The report notes that the success of COP26 will be dependent on effective diplomacy but that it remains unclear whether the COP26 Unit has been assigned a dedicated diplomatic team or the extent to which the diplomatic network is engaged in helping to achieve summit objectives.

The report emphasises the need for the Government to show global leadership by taking decisive action on the UK’s domestic ambitions. The committee and recommends the government accept in full the Climate Change Committee (CCC) sixth carbon budget advice  and bring in the necessary legislation as early as possible.