Government policies will fail to achieve net zero

The government has been urged to take “real action” to achieve its net zero ambition after it was revealed that progress towards curbing greenhouse gas emissions is lagging far behind what is needed, even to meet previous, less stringent, emissions targets.

In June, the government legislated to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 moving beyond a target for an 80% reduction against 1990 levels, but a new report by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said in the past year the government has delivered just 1 of 25 critical policies needed to get emissions reductions back on track.

Among the policies that lack sufficient ambition, the CCC highlighted Defra’s Resources and Waste strategy published in late-2018 which proposes to work towards eliminating biodegradable waste to landfill by 2035, and food waste by 2030. The Committee noted this was less ambitious than Welsh and Scottish ambitions and inconsistent with its pathway towards achieving net-zero emissions in 2050 by stopping most bio-waste streams being sent to landfill no later than 2025.

It said the ambition in England on recycling other waste must be strengthened to achieve 70% recycling rates by 2025, which should also cover plans to reduce food waste.

The Committee has previously highlighted the slow progress in reducing emissions from food production. In May, it said a UK target for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 can only be achieved by shifting towards healthier diets with reduced consumption of beef, lamb and dairy products.

In order to achieve net zero, the CCC said policy must be embedded across all levels and departments of government, with strong leadership at the centre. Policies should also provide clear and stable direction and a simple, investable set of rules and incentives which leave room for businesses to innovate and find the most effective means of switching to low-carbon technologies.

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