Environment

Ministers have 'no plan' to reach net-zero emissions, say MPs

'You can't find your way without a map, and we can't reach net zero by 2050 without a detailed plan of action,' said Kate Norgrove, executive director of advocacy and campaigns at wildlife charity WWF.

Ministers are failing on their net-zero target, MP’s have warned. Image credit: Fietz Fotos / Pixabay

Ministers are failing on their net-zero target, MP’s have warned. Image credit: Fietz Fotos / Pixabay

Ministers have come under pressure to back up their bold promises on the climate crisis after a parliamentary committee found the Government had “no plan” for reaching net-zero emissions

The UK was the first country in the world to enshrine its net-zero carbon emissions target in law, compelling ministers to balance the amount of planet-heating greenhouse gases produced with the amount removed from the atmosphere by 2050.

But a new report by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said there wasn’t a long-term plan to reach the ambitious goal and accused the Government of instead relying on a “plethora of strategies”. 

“The Government has set itself a huge test in committing the UK to a net zero economy by 2050 – but there is little sign that it understands how to get there and almost two years later it still has no plan,” said Labour MP Meg Hillier, chair of the committee. 

“Our response to climate change must be as joined up and integrated as the ecosystems we are trying to protect.

“Our new international trade deals, the levelling up agenda – all must fit in the plan to reach net zero.”

Lockdowns have taken income away from hundreds of Big Issue sellers. Support The Big Issue and our vendors by signing up for a subscription.  

The Government said it was “nonsense” to claim it didn’t have a plan as it had been “leading the world” in tackling climate change. 

When delivering the Budget earlier this week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak declared plans for investment in green industries through a £12 billion UK infrastructure bank, a Government-backed green bond and new locations for offshore wind farms. 

But environmental campaigners accused Sunak of not going far enough. They also raised concern over other measures in the statement, including another fuel duty freeze and plans to build a new deep coal mine in Cumbria. 

Kate Norgrove, executive director of advocacy and campaigns at wildlife charity WWF, said the Government needed to apply a net-zero test to overall Government spending to ensure new investment policies didn’t “undermine” the UK’s climate goals. 

“You can’t find your way without a map, and we can’t reach net zero by 2050 without a detailed plan of action,” she said. 

“To show true leadership ahead of the Glasgow climate summit, we must act now to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. 

“Every half-a-degree beyond that could result in devastating impacts for people, nature and our global economy.” 

Mike Childs, head of policy at Friends of the Earth, said the committee findings suggested the Government was “long on rhetoric but short on action” when dealing with the climate crisis. 

Childs said: “With the world on the brink of catastrophic climate change, why is there still no national plan to insulate our heat-leaking homes, fund the mass roll-out of eco-heating, or make public transport an efficient and affordable alternative to the car? And why are local authorities still starved of the cash and powers they need to help communities go green?

“Without a comprehensive action plan to meet its net-zero target, the Government risks being a massive embarrassment when it hosts the forthcoming climate summit in Glasgow.”

A Government spokesperson said: “It is nonsense to say the Government does not have a plan when we have been leading the world in tackling climate change, cutting emissions by almost 44 per cent since 1990 and doing so faster than any other developed nation in recent years.

“Only this week in the Budget we built on the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution by encouraging private investment in green growth, and we are bringing forward bold proposals to cut emissions and create new jobs and industries across the whole country.”

Support your local Big Issue vendor

If you can’t get to your local vendor every week, subscribing directly to them online is the best way to support your vendor. Your chosen vendor will receive 50% of the profit from each copy and the rest is invested back into our work to create opportunities for people affected by poverty.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
What is the National Wealth Fund? Inside Labour’s less sexy, technocratic replacement for the £28bn
Rachel Reeves and Ed Miliband meeting the National Wealth Fund taskforce
Politics

What is the National Wealth Fund? Inside Labour’s less sexy, technocratic replacement for the £28bn

'It's a scandal': Outcry from Brits to nationalise water companies as bills set to rise – again
Water

'It's a scandal': Outcry from Brits to nationalise water companies as bills set to rise – again

Labour's plan for the climate and nature: The good, the bad and the glaringly absent
Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner announce new grey belt Labour housebuilding plan
General election 2024

Labour's plan for the climate and nature: The good, the bad and the glaringly absent

Water companies paid shareholders £377 for every hour they pumped sewage into seas, study finds
Pollution

Water companies paid shareholders £377 for every hour they pumped sewage into seas, study finds

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know

Support our vendors with a subscription

For each subscription to the magazine, we’ll provide a vendor with a reusable water bottle, making it easier for them to access cold water on hot days.