The Friday Digest: Targets missed and targets missing

The end of COP27 last weekend prompted a global stock take of where we stand in our efforts to avert the most damaging effects of climate change. The consensus, bluntly, is that we’re still in a perilous position despite meaningful progress in areas like loss and damage finance to developing nations. “Time is running out and we need to see a much stronger shift from promises to action,” said WWF executive director of advocacy & campaigns Katie White, adding: “We cannot fight the climate crisis without protecting and restoring nature and tackling unsustainable food systems.”

Although food finally made it onto the agenda at a COP summit, few concrete outcomes and new targets emerged from Sharm el-Sheikh. By contrast, a new chef-led coalition has at least drawn a line in the sand over plans to deliver an emissions-cutting initiative. Tuesday marked the launch of the Global Cooksafe Coalition, a new alliance of billion-dollar property developers and leading chefs who have committed to phase out gas cookers by 2040 at the latest. UK-based James Lowe, founder of Michelin star restaurant, Lyle’s, and Rob Roy Cameron who is Gordon Ramsey's development chef, are among the chefs pledging to install inductions cookers in new kitchens by at least 2030 and existing kitchens by 2040.

Now that the COP circus has packed up and left town attention switches to the COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal next month where the aim is to agree a new set of goals for nature by 2030. The UK government is under pressure to publish its own overdue environmental targets by the time COP15 begins in earnest. The chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee, Philip Dunne MP, this week wrote to the environment secretary Therese Coffey raising the committee’s concerns that a culture of delay at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is holding up progress on a range of promised environment policies. The government failed to meet the statutory deadline of October 31st to confirm new long-term targets for air quality, water, biodiversity and species abundance, as well as resource efficiency and waste reduction, which was set in its own Environment Act.

The committee is also calling on Coffey to set out a timetable for publication of documents on initiatives such as the extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme for packaging amid what Dunne described as “delays in substantive policy progress at Defra”.

Elsewhere, the government is facing criticism for its intractable position on solar panels amid rumours it plans to extend the de facto ban on solar farms in England to a wider area of low-grade agricultural land. New analysis from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) found that farmers without solar panels could be missing out on up to £1bn over two years in extra income and energy savings. “As long as care is taken to avoid land that’s needed to produce food [solar panels] can help cut bills, bring in extra income, and achieve net zero," said Robbie Moore, MP for Keighley and Ilkley.

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