The Climate Change Committee (CCC) is the independent, statutory body established under the Climate Change Act 2008. Its purpose is to advise the UK and devolved governments on emissions targets and to report to Parliament on progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for and adapting to the impacts of climate change.
In two progress reports, published on the 24th June 2021, the UK’s Climate Change Committee offers its appraisal of progress on the twin climate challenges: cutting emissions to Net Zero and adapting to the climate risks facing the UK.
The reports draw on the Committee’s comprehensive analysis of the UK’s Sixth Carbon Budget and its recent third Climate Change Risk Assessment to present more than 200 climate policy recommendations, covering every part of Government. The CCC stresses that the opportunity to implement its recommendations is there, but only if the Government moves decisively.
In its press release, the CCC notes that the Government has made historic climate promises through the Ten Point Plan For A Green Industrial Revolution. The CCC gives credit to the Government for making those commitments, but it also notes that the Government has been too slow to follow these with delivery:
“The Prime Minister’s Ten-Point Plan was an important statement of ambition, but it has yet to be backed with firm policies. The public has not been informed or engaged in the changes that must lie ahead. There is still a window to make comprehensive plans and demonstrate leadership at home and to a global audience, but the Government is taking a high-stakes gamble to focus everything on a new Net Zero Strategy in the autumn to achieve that. It is absolutely critical that the new strategy is published before the COP26 climate summit, with clear policy plans, backed fully by the Treasury. It must be accompanied by a commitment to prepare the country for the serious climate risks facing the UK, as the next cycle of adaptation planning begins.”
The chairs of the Climate Change Committee (Lord Deben) and the Climate Adaptation Committee (Baroness Brown) have made strong statements, clearly designed to express the need for urgency before the Government enters into COP26 talks later this year.
Lord Deben has said: “We are in the decisive decade for tackling climate change. The Government must get real on delivery. Global Britain has to prove that it can lead a global change in how we treat our planet. Get it right and UK action will echo widely. Continue to be slow and timid and the opportunity will slip from our hands. Between now and COP 26 the world will look for delivery, not promises.”
Baroness Brown said: “The UK is leading in diagnosis but lagging in policy and action. This cannot be put off further. We cannot deliver Net Zero without serious action on adaptation. We need action now, followed by a National Adaptation Programme that must be more ambitious; more comprehensive; and better focussed on implementation than its predecessors, to improve national resilience to climate change.”
For more on why this is important: Dr James Dyke, Assistant Director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter is the latest guest on the The Owl Hoot podcast. He provides a clear account of climate change and how things currently stand. Listen to the podcast here: The Owl Hoot: Earth Systems and Climate Change.